Marc Tempé

VigneronMarc and Anne-Marie Tempé
LocationZellenberg (Haut-Rhin)
Size of Domaine8 ha
TerroirContinental climate, sheltered from rain by Vosges mountains. Clay-limestone marls, limestone, schist-marl, sandstone. 270-320m altitude.
ViticultureCertified biodynamic (Demeter)
View Marc Tempé wines ↓

Back in the eighties Marc initially worked as a lab technician for the INAO. He then stepped outdoors to work as a vineyard expert for the same body, responsible for selecting lieux-dits for possible inclusion into Alsace’s Grand Cru system.

Both Marc and wife Anne Marie’s parents were co-operative winemakers and from the families’ joint vineyard holdings they started their new domaine in 1993.

Marc, who Léonard Humbrecht (of Zind-Humbrecht) calls his ‘spiritual godson’, has been working his 8ha of hillside vineyards in the Haut-Rhin biodynamically since late 1996. Most of his wines are made from very old vines and, harnessed to fastidious viticulture, yields average an incredibly low 30hh (less than half of the regional average).

Marc Tempé
Bird nest in the vines

There is no chaptalisation, acidification or cultured yeasts; élevage is in old foudres or old burgundy barrels (mostly from fellow biodynamic grower Domaine Leflaive). Fermentations are carried out in their Zellenberg cellars, and the wines rest on their lees for a minimum of 24 months, a good year longer than almost all other vignerons in Alsace. At bottling there is no fining (and no filtration for most of the lieux-dits and Grand Crus) and judicious use of sulphur.

There are an incredible density and depth of fruit in Marc's wines, there is something hedonistic about them and yet they are beautifully balanced with good acidities, a terroir print and notable bitters on the finish. All of the wines age effortlessly.

La cave
La vieille cave
Anne-Marie and the Tempés' favorite tractor
The streets of Zellenberg

Marc Tempé Wines

60% Pinot Blanc, 40% Auxerrois
60% Pinot Blanc, 40% Auxerrois (13% alc, 13.8g/l of rs)
(13% alc, 13.8g/l of rs)

Previously labelled as Zellenberg, the Tempés got into trouble with the AC body that (stupidly) forbids the use of the Zellenberg village as a cuvée name. It comes from nine parcels of 50yo vines on the flanks of Zellenberg’s hills where the soils are clayey marls. A good proportion of auxerrois favoured for body and spice, aged in foudres on fine lees for two years, this has incredible intensity and freshness, a fantastic food wine that tastes bone-dry despite the level of residual sugar. For drinking now to 2030.

100% Pinot Gris
100% Pinot Gris (14% alc, 3g/l of rs)
(14% alc, 3g/l of rs)

Previously known as the Zellenberg pinot gris, it had to be renamed (see pinot blanc). The clayey marls of Zellenberg gives this wine great structure and depth of fruit as per all Tempé wines, it was aged for two years on fine lees in traditional foudres. Touch of reduction on the nose, it opens up quickly showcasing warmth and richness, the fruit is yet restrained with pear, peach, and spices, lovely bitters on the finish that balance the wine's power. For drinking now to 2030.

100% Riesling
100% Riesling (14% alc, 5.6g/l of rs)
(14% alc, 5.6g/l of rs)

This riesling comes from 50yo vines in the commune of Saint Hyppolyte (north of Zellenberg at the Haut/Bas-Rhin border) on acid soils of granitic sand. Two years ageing on fine lees in Alsatian wooden foudres. Full-bodied, earthy and mineral, textured and almost tannic, this achieves the duality of being both broad and precise in flavour, with exemplary balance and tension, notable bitters on the finish. For drinking now to 2030.

100% Riesling
100% Riesling (14% alc, 4.1g/l of rs)
(14% alc, 4.1g/l of rs)

The Grafenreben vineyard, which occupies the same flank as the Schoenenbourg Grand Cru spilling off the plateau just north of Riquewihr, comprises two tiny parcels planted in 1950 and 1977 totalling 0.30ha. According to Marc this is a fantastic terroir – better than Mambourg GC! The limestone soil here is relatively heavy with clay, making for a distinctly earthy and ageworthy riesling. Marc always harvests late here, yields are low, often half of what's permitted for a Grand Cru. Deeper in colour and richer than the Zellenberg, and aged for three years in Leflaive barrels, it’s all stony concentration and complexity, ripe fruit and beautiful balance. For drinking now to 2036.

100% Pinot Gris
100% Pinot Gris (14% alc, 14g/l of rs)
(14% alc, 14g/l of rs)

Marc’s top cuvée of pinot gris, aged in older barriques for two years, there is a distinct step up in class here. It is made from 30yo vines on the south-eastern flank of the Grand Cru of Schoenenbourg, where there is a deep clay-limestone soil. There’s notable concentration, tropical fruit, good balance, freshness and structure and it’s quite saline with good vitality on the finish. Will age especially well. For drinking now to 2036.

100% Gewürztraminer
100% Gewürztraminer (13% alc, 26g/l of rs)
(13% alc, 26g/l of rs)

Mambourg Grand Cru is an early ripening, south-facing hillside with a limestone derived topsoil in which iron oxide gives great complexity. Marc’s vines were planted between 1930 and 1977. The wine is as intensely floral as it is mineral, and full of zesty passion fruit that is balanced by an electric vein of acidity – something that this variety all too often lacks – fantastic with stilton! For drinking now to 2035+.

100% Pinot Noir
100% Pinot Noir (13% alc)
(13% alc)

Marc’s pinot noir comes from 35-40yo vines planted in limestone-clay soils and he looks to pick fully ripe grapes to make this wine. Destalked by hand, the whole grapes are crushed and macerated for five weeks with a few remontages at the start. The élevage then follows in older barrels for two years, and the wine is not racked, fined, filtered or sulphured. There is a lovely red cherry fruit, the wine is silky and elegant, feeling very close to fresh-cut grapes.

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