Highlights: two from Domaine du Tunnel in the Northern Rhône

Stéphane Robert started making his own wines at the young age of 24 from rented vineyards. A few years down the track, he now has 10 hectares of vines (that’s a lot by the standards of this small region) spread across a few appellations. These two wines impressed: a full flavoured Roussanne from Saint-Peray, and a silky smooth Cornas with lovely flesh.

Domaine du Tunnel Saint-Peray Roussanne 2017 Northern Rhône, France
13.5% alcohol. Domaine du Tunnel have two hectares of Roussanne in Saint-Péray, and this wine includes grapes from four lieu-dits: Barras, Grand Plantier, Combe and l’Arzalier. Vinification is in a mix of stainless steel and older barrels. This is a full yellow in colour, and has lovely aromas of honey, apricot, mandarin and pastry. The palate is concentrated and richly textured, with a slight oily feel. But it has freshness, too. Lots of pear, apricot, coconut, melon and some spiciness on the finish. A really rich but complete wine, balancing the unctuous ripe fruit with some spice and a bit of acidity. Very special. 94/100 (£27.88 Lay & Wheeler https://www.laywheeler.com/product-detail?id=0917331A&sac=PROD)

Stéphane Robert Domaine du Tunnel Cornas 2017 Northern Rhône, France
13.5% alcohol. This is from 15 parcels on the slopes of the 150 hectares of the Cornas appellation (like many northern Rhône appellations, it’s tiny). It spends 14 months in fourth-use oak barrels. It has a perfumed, floral black fruits nose with a sleek, sweet quality and just a hint of pepper and olive tapenade. The palate has a bit of structure, but also very polished black cherry and berry fruits, with a softness and some molten tannin, finishing fresh and long. It’s a very smooth, ripe expression of Cornas, but there’s good balance here. Tending to elegance, rather than power, it’s a really lovely wine. Has some creamy blackcurrant undercurrents, and there’s a bit more structure if you look than first seems apparent. 93/100 (£38.68 Lay & Wheeler https://www.laywheeler.com/product-detail?id=0817547A&sac=PROD)

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