Grapes Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo are finicky. The former, native to Burgundy, is delicately natured and difficult to cultivate for reasons that will be discussed shortly. The second, a highly prized varietal that originated in Italian Piedmont, has a similar reputation further complicated by the region in which it is grown.

Why do such difficulties exist? A common feature in each is a thin skin. This outer layer, the likes of which can fend off disease when slightly thicker, is decidedly slender, leaving each more vulnerable to diseases covered in a previous lecture. To review, these are:

  1. Botrytis Cinerea – An aggressive gray fungus that sprouts during times of high humidity.
  2. Coulure – Poor fruit set caused by weather that does not promote pollination.
  3. Fanleaf – Caused by pest Xiphinema index, a nematode that shows itself in leaf malformation, yellowing leaves and shoots, abnormally sized branches and bunches, poor fruit set, and inconsistent ripening.
  4. Leaf Roll – Caused by an invasion of up to nine virus species that leads to smaller, unevenly ripened grape clusters and rolled, discolored leaves.

Such dangers require vigilance in the vineyard to protect vines and grapes. When measures are taken, the effect is glorious, resulting in the most prized wines in the world – delicately colored and flavored, with unusual nuances texturally and in terms of flavor.

The tasting began with Domaine Serene’s Yamhill Cuvèe, a Pinot Noir made with grapes from three different Oregon vineyards. Its nose expressed raspberry and red cherry, while flavors of bing cherry, coffee, raspberry jam, and milk chocolate showed themselves when tasted. The Renato Ratti Barolo, on the other hand, was much drier, revealing scents of crushed cherry and dried flowers offset by enough tannic grip to take on a filet.


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