Only keep wines you love
with our Society's Promise
Free delivery on
12 bottles or orders over £75
Now accepting new memberships
Sign up for a lifetime of good wine
This is a lovely mature Saint-Joseph, spicy and fine and perfect to drink now. Stéphane Robert is a talented grower with vines in Saint-Peray, Cornas and Saint-Joseph. His luck was in finding parcels of old vines on good slopes and being able to purchase a disused railway tunnel which he uses as a cellar.
Product Code: RH40681
View all products by Domaine du Tunnel
Stéphane Robert has single-handedly built up his domaine from nothing, beginning at the relatively tender age of 24 in 1994. He began by leasing vines and gradually acquired land of his own. Together with his wife Sandrine he has accumulated some 9 hectares of vines and a reputation as an excellent winemaker. With holdings in the rejuvenated appellation of Saint-Péray, Cornas and Saint-Joseph, Stéphane makes concentrated wines that are not masked by oak, allowing the fruit to shine through. His reds are, naturally enough, made from syrah and his whites from marsanne and roussanne.
A narrow, funnel-shaped vineyard extends on both sides of the Rhône from Vienne in the north to Valance in the south. The scenery is often dramatic with many of the vineyards perched precariously on the steep valley sides. The wines match the scenery: deeply coloured, fine, spicy reds made from the syrah grape and rich, full-bodied whites made from marsanne and roussanne grapes, or the more aromatic viognier up in Condrieu. Granite, sandy silica and clay soils predominate though small traces of limestone may also be found in Hermitage, Crozes and Cornas. Production here is relatively small, accounting for less than 3% of the total for the Rhône Valley. Most of the wines are sold by appellation with three being white only, two red only and three others where both red and white can be made. The appellation Côtes-du-Rhône is rarely seen in the north and may well disappear altogether. On the other hand, full use is made of the vin de pays/vin de France category which allows producers to make slightly simpler wines from young vines or from vines that for one reason or another were not included in any appellation.Seyssuel There is no appellation Seyssuel. These steep vineyards on the left bank close to Vienne were once famous but fell into obscurity after phylloxera wiped them out in the 19th century. Since the late 1990s, however, there has been a move to reclaim this valuable land for the vine. Many growers are involved here and the results are extremely good. The wines are broadly similar to Côte-Rôtie in style but maybe riper and more dramatic, the vines, after all, face the evening sun and there is more heat here than in Côte-Rôtie. Full appellation status is probably just a few years away after the efforts of Ogier, Villard and Villa have done so much to put it on the map.Côte-Rôtie Red only. The “roasted slope”, only half an hour’s drive south of Beaujolais, this northernmost outpost of the syrah grape produces wines that at times can match Burgundy for delicacy and charm. The vineyard is very steep with an incline of as much as 60 degrees. Guigal is the most important producer attracting the highest prices, but there are dozens of smallholders making interesting wines. Guigal has made new oak very fashionable and many growers use it sometimes to excess.Condrieu White only from the viognier grape. The scent of apricot in a good example of Condrieu is almost intoxicating. Rapid expansion of vineyards means that there are lots of young vines and therefore wines that lack substance, so there is good reason to get to know the better growers, such as André Perret, François Villard and Christophe Pichon, and follow them..Saint-Joseph Reds from syrah and whites from marsanne and roussanne; reds are more exciting. The best Saint-Josephs have class and can be good value. Some of the best slopes are only now being replanted after years of neglect, so huge potential. Many top producers have started to bring out single-vineyard Saint-Josephs. All can be brilliant and though pricey, offer better value than top-end Côte-Rôties for example. Look for the grower’s name. Crozes-Hermitage Reds are made from syrah and whites from marsanne and roussanne. Crozes-Hermitage accounts for more than half of the northern Rhône and its wines are plentiful and accessible. Reds are better than whites. Crozes-Hermitage comes in two parts. The largest is on the flat, close to the river and what would have been a river bed. It produces deeply coloured reds that are soft and fruity and without question a perfect introduction to the syrah of the north. The other part is behind the hill of Hermitage, sometimes on granite but mostly on white clay and limestone. This is the historic heart of Crozes producing wines of interest and substance and the whites from here can be outstanding too.Hermitage Syrah for reds, marsanne with a little roussanne for whites. This amazing southfacing slope has the greatest pedigree of any wine in the Rhône Valley. Its complex geology ensures added interest and complexity and in good years, Hermitage may sit at the highest tables. The downside is that the quality and reputation of Hermitage wines from the best producers means that there is a very limited supply of the best wines, and prices are set to rise.Cornas Red only from syrah. It is a small appellation nestling in a half amphitheatre of mostly granite, all facing fully south. The climate here is significantly warmer so Cornas is often among the first to harvest. Wines are black, thick and often tannic in their youth. Style is changing and quality is on the up, almost matching Hermitage. Cornas remains an uncompromising wine and rewards good food. Always decant.Saint-Péray White only made from marsanne and roussanne. The granite of Cornas gives way to limestone. The wines have more acidity and keep well. For some unaccountable reason, historically, most of the wine was sparkling but mercifully things are changing. There is big potential for fine whites. Producer’s name is essential. The Drôme Valley This is a major tributary of the Rhône that rises in the Alps and joins up with the Rhône to the south of Valence. At the western end there are a few vineyards, mostly of syrah and sold as Côtes-du- Rhône Brézème. This is rare, very little known and amazingly good-value source for Crozes-like reds. Further east, the landscape becomes more mountainous and the grapes mostly white, clairette and muscat and wines are mostly sparkling. Clairette de Die is light and sweet, a bit like Italian Asti, while Crémant de Die is dry and full-flavoured.
The years go by and no two vintages are ever the same. In 2013, there was no spring. In its place, the cold, wet winter just seemed to go on forever. It wasn’t until July that temperatures began to rise, and suddenly summer arrived. Flowering was poor and the grenache grape suffered especially. The Indian summer, which was never too hot, came as blissful respite for growers who began to wonder whether they would ever be able to pick. Northern RhôneThe first thing Thierry Allemand said was: ‘At last! A true Cornas vintage’. His wines have virility, lift and an abundance of fruit; there is a definition to the wines that mark them out. 2013 northern Rhône syrah is sleek, succulent and concentrated. The tannins are present but, by and large, they’re ripe. So much so that many growers have gone back to whole-bunch fermentation, stalks and all. Crozes-Hermitage, the portal to understanding Rhône syrah, was outstanding in 2013. Wines from Cornas, Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage will all require patience, such is the weight of matter in these wines, but it will be rewarded. Southern RhôneThe south was more challenging. Not only were the yields incredibly low but there was hardly any grenache. What to do? Growers had to adapt, make fewer cuvées and then bring to the world wines with more syrah or mourvedre. So some of these southern 2013s are atypical, with more colour, more grip and more fruit. In some cases, the wines are fractionally less alcoholic too. The results are surprising though uneven and so the line up from the south looks a little different to normal as we too have had to adapt. There is more from Gigondas as unquestioningly 2013 is a great Gigondas vintage. Success in Châteauneuf-du-Pape was also possible: Vincent Avril at Clos des Papes made a great Châteauneuf but did so by severe pruning. He yielded just 13.5hl/ha, a record low at this estate.The whites - In a word: stunning. From Condrieu in the north all the way down to the Roussillon, 2013 is a stunning white vintage where fruit, grip and concentration combine perfectly.
There are no member reviews for this product. Click the 'Leave a Review' button to be the first.
There are no press reviews for this product.
Log in to view notes
Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.
By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.
You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.
4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?
4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?
Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.
The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.
The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.
4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?
We use the following three types of cookies:
22.214.171.124. Strictly Necessary CookiesThese cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:
126.96.36.199. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking CookiesThese cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:
188.8.131.52. Performance/analytical cookiesThese cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:
184.108.40.206. Authentication CookieIn order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.
4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?
All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.
4.4.6. Learn more about cookies