2014 Cornas, Domaine du Tunnel, Rhône
Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate - Issue#222 Dec 2015
About this WINE
Domaine Du Tunnel
Located in a somewhat anonymous back-street of St Peray in Rhone, Domaine Du Tunnel is forging a reputation as one of the leading wine producers in newly rejuvenated villages of St Peray and Cornas, both famous through history and throughout France for making, respectively, excellent white and red wines.
Now, with the savoir faire of young vignerons such as Stéphane Robert, this reputation is set to achieve more international recognition.
Stephane began building this domain in 1994, when he was 24. He now works with 3ha in Cornas, 2.5 in Saint Joseph and 2 in Saint Peray, most of which he owns Aiming for wines which are characterised by fruit intensity rather than oak
Cornas is a small appellation, just 150 hectares, located south of St Joseph. It’s on the west side of the river. The name “Cornas” comes from an old Celtic dialect term, meaning “burnt land”, so it’s no surprise that on the steep terraces here, facing south, temperatures are significantly higher than those in Hermitage, which is just 7km away.
The granite soils are home to the Syrah grape, producing reds that sit somewhere between those of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. These are strong and powerful wines, with nervy acidity and a robust, rustic charm to them. Their prominent tannins mean that they often demand time in the cellar to express their underlying elegance and complexity.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
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The new chai has allowed more scope for separating the parcels in 2014, and the added rigour in the selection process is demonstrated by a finely drawn assemblage, its rounded generous fruit buttressed by very poised yet persistent tannins and a herbal backdrop.
Simon Field MW – Wine Buyer
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