We enjoyed a wonderful visit to Chateau Climens in Barsac, owned by Berenice Lurton. Barsac, situated between the Garonne river, its colder tributary Ciron and the Landes forest, has an ideal microclimate for producing sweet wine. In the autumn mornings, the mist rising from the river is trapped by the forest and hangs over Barsac in a dense fog until it is evaporated by the midday sun. This causes the grapes to develop "noble rot", the nickname for the fungus botrytis cinerea. They shrivel but their disfigured appearance belies a delicious sweetening of the fruit, which is then harvested.
Berenice is passionate about three main factors in relation to her wines. First, she only uses Semillon grapes. Secondly, she has a "bio-dynamique" philosophy in her viticulture (the BD certificate will first appear on the 2014 vintage as the wines will have passed the tests for three years). She doesn't use chemicals on the vines. Instead, they are sprayed with different kinds of cold "tea", depending on the climatic conditions. For example, they are sprayed with a horsetail distillation if it's been very wet and with camomile if the weather's been changeable. Finally, every year she takes great pains, using test tubes and syringes, to choose the best blends of grapes from the different plots of the vineyard.
Her second, cheaper wine Cypres de Climens is also delicious.