Domaine du Tunnel is situated in an old steam train tunnel in the charming village of Saint-P̩ray in the Northern Rh̫ne. This small family domaine is run by St̩phane Robert and his wife Sandrine. St̩phane, also the winemaker, began in 1994 when he was just twenty-four years old by renting vines. He now owns 10 hectares of his own vines located in Cornas, Saint-P̩ray and Saint Joseph. Domaine du Tunnel's Roussanne comes from the lieu dits barras, grand plantier, combe and l'arzalier.
The barras vineyard, where a large portion of Roussanne is planted, is at 250m altitude, providing crisp acidity and aromatics to the blend. John Livingstone-Learmonth writes in his book, The Wines of the Northern Rh̫ne, "St-P̩ray is home to some of the best Roussanne in the northern Rh̫ne, not only mature vines but younger vines taken from fine old rootstock as well."
St̩phane's Cornas is made from fifteen parcels of Syrah from the following lieu dits: combe, patou, sauman, champelrose, les saveaux, les eygats, les cotes, les mazards, la geynale and cayret. The blending of parcels from several lieu dits gives the wine layers of complexity and character. Both the Roussanne and Syrah are planted on steep slopes which require the vines to be trained on individual stakes, and the harvest can only be carried out by hand.
The Saint-P̩ray Roussanne is 100% Roussanne and is fermented in a combination of stainless steel and four to five year old barriques, and is aged on its lees for a further 9 months. It has delicate aromas of linden flowers and grapefruit with lively acidity and complexity from the blending of parcels and vessels, the finish is long.
St̩phane's Cornas spends fourteen months in four year old oak barriques for roundness without masking the fruit. It has a lovely deep colour with a ripe and spicy nose of fragrant black fruits. The tannins are smooth but structured.
St̩phane's wines have this wonderful concentration of fruit, finesse and purity that is profound and mouthfilling.