If you have trouble finding Saint-Péray on a map, you’re not alone. The tiny Northern Rhône appellation is tucked just south of Cornas on the Rhône River, and covers only three tenths of a square mile. But Vinous’s Josh Raynolds calls it “currently the most exciting appellation in the northern Rhône Valley.”
The wines of Saint-Péray are perfumed and highly expressive, and Raynolds claims the best examples “rival Hermitage blanc for quality.” Made from Marsanne, Roussanne, or a blend of the two, they’re exotic, aromatic white wines that show tropical notes and low acidity, perfect for apéritifs. Saint-Pérays are complex, rare, and, when you can find them, delicious.
Most interesting for us, however, is Raynolds claim that “Stephane Robert, for my money, is making the best St-Perays out there right now.”
Stephane Robert is the winemaker at the Domaine du Tunnel, our newest source in the Northern Rhône valley. Tunnel is famous as one of the top sources for Cornas, and indeed it was their excellent reds that led us to their door. But we were so taken with their Saint-Péray that we just couldn’t skip it.
Tunnel’s 2016 Saint-Péray explodes from the glass. Peach, honey, tangerine, and apricots mix with tropical flowers and pears. The mouth is rich and intense; it coats the mouth with dried fruits and concludes with a beautifully balanced finish (13.5%) of minerals and zest. Think Condrieu, but with yellower fruits and a slightly sun-baked feel.
We could go on about the complexity and seductiveness of this wine, but to get the complete picture you’ll need a glass yourself.
Tunnel Saint-Péray 2016
bottle price : $45
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