Two years after Takahiko Soga launched his eponymous vineyard Domaine Takahiko, disaster struck. A fungus infected half of his crop of pinot noir, covering the grapes in a gray rot.
He managed to produce a limited vintage of red wine with the grapes that avoided infection. The next year, 2013, Soga suffered a bigger setback. This time the Botrytis cinerea fungus blighted his entire crop. He faced a lost harvest after nearly a year of backbreaking work.
People told Soga he had no choice but to throw away his grapes. But he decided to try producing a vintage with the rotting fruit. He remembered travels in Alsace, France, where he tasted a honeyed wine made from infected pinot noir that captivated him. Instead of blight, producers considered the fungus a “noble rot” that gave the wine depth and complexity.