Cornas is a tiny appellation of only 50 growers. By rules and heritage, it’s the Northern Rhône: its wines are pure, unblended Syrah. But in spirit and character, it’s not far from the South. Cornas (which means “scorched earth” in Celtic) harvests a week earlier than Hermitage (just 20 minutes north), and the vertiginous slopes produce wines with a southern, sunbaked character.
Vinous writer Josh Raynolds calls the Domaine du Tunnel “among the top producers of Cornas.” Star winemaker Stephane Robert farms an envious collection of old syrah vines around the tiny appellation, and his wines very much live up to the hype. Robert is humble and quiet in person, but his wines are bold, assertive, and utterly charming.
Once a forgotten appellation, Cornas has become the darling of the sommelier Instagram crowd in recent years, as collectors chase aged bottles with names like Clape and Voge. Tunnel’s wines drink better a little earlier, and don’t require the same investment as the famous names. But they’re every bit Cornas, full of extraordinary depth and power.
Tunnel’s 2018 Cornas is terrific — the warm year produced lots of ripeness, making it juicy and approachable today. But there’s plenty of Cornas’s traditional sturdy foundation. Vinous awarded 93 points, finding it “really quite elegant,” with “fine grained tannins” and an “impressively long, sappy finish.” Jancis Robinson’s reviewer found “intensity and clarity of fruit,” with a “velvety texture.”
This won’t reach its peak for several years, but by this fall a properly decanted bottle is sure to turn heads.
Tunnel Cornas 2018
bottle price: $58
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