To Chateauneuf yesterday to meet Daniel Stehelin, vigneron and father to Manon , who as girlfriend to Florent Lancon had been our guest for lunch a few weeks back. The property is a grand chateau just outside of Bedarrides. The place was built in the 18th century as a mansion for the Marquis de Vaucroze. The name Mont Thabor was given by Don Pernety, the founder of the sect of Illuminés of Avignon: At the property he planted trees coming from the Israeli mountain, Mont Thabor.From 1840 the place became “Relais de Diligence”, a place to stay for travellers on the road between Paris and Marseille.In 1881 the property was purchased by the Swiss Fritz Stehelin. He changed the stables and garages into rooms for wine making. Luc Stehelin (from 1940) expanded the wine production from the fields around the castle (Cotes du Rhone). Daniel Stehelin, a man with twinkling eyes and a classic french outsized moustache, took the reigns at the property from his father Luc in 1971- his father is 93 years old, blind, but still it would seem able to take a stroll around the front garden.This is truely a micro-production outfit - the property has just 4 ha. of Chateauneuf du Pape, well situated ( a neighbour of La Nerthe on the south side of the appellation) and 7 ha. of Cotes du Rhone adjacent the chateaux. Chateauneuf du Pape is made from 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah and Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault. The average age of the vines is 70 years. Daniel is experimenting with his white Cotes du Rhone, the latest trial being a barrel fermented version - we tasted the 2007 version from the barrel in the wine-making cave converted from the old stables. Further tasting in the salle de degustation revealed a very animal red CDR, a muscular tannic 2005 CNduP and a rich 2004 - ripe fruit, grilled meats and pepper on the finish - a delightful mid-weight CNduP. I couldnt resist a case. Nice wines made in almost “garage” proportions, delightful proprietor and a wonderful place to visit…watch this space for our tour itinerary!