Generally speaking, I am not a fan of gimmicks. I avoid Black Friday like the plague, I am usually suspicious of “Buy one, get one free” campaigns, and every time I hear “But Wait, There’s More!” I sprint quickly in the opposite direction. So when I was presented with the opportunity to taste Zonin’s new trio of Proseccos, well, I was skeptical.
Until recently, I was skeptical of Prosecco in general as many of the wines you find in the wine shop or supermarket in the U.S. are, frankly, just not very good. On a recent trip to the region, however, I visited Nino Franco where Silvia Franco convinced me to keep an open mind about wines from the region.
On top of that, I found Zonin’s concept to be at the least interesting if not captivating: the company produced three different Proseccos, all containing 85% Glera, the required grape in the region. For the remaining 15%, they blended in three different iterations of the Pinot variety: Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir).
As I researcher, I immediately had several questions, the first of which was: “Can 15% make that much difference?”
So I decided to try to find out.
[Of course, in a “real” experiment, one first needs to ensure that all other aspects are the same so that the only change is that 15%, but the bottles were already cold, so I just rolled with it.]
Zonin Prosecco White Edition: Retail $15. 85% Glera, 15% Pinot Bianco. A shy nose but plenty of white peach on the palate. A bit round–not as bright as I would like but over all a pleasant quaff without the bitterness, astringency, or nutty aspect that I often find in Proseccos. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Zonin Prosecco Grey Edition: Retail $15. 85% Glera, 15% Pinot Grigio. Subtle hints of lime and lemon on the nose. On the palate certainly the lemon lime aspect, but also some peach and a rounder mouthfeel. Finishes with a bit of tartness. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
Zonin Prosecco Black Edition: Retail $15. 85% Glera, 15% Pinot Noir. I can’t tell if I am looking for it, or it is actually there, but I am picking up some red berry fruit here, albeit subtle. The palate seems a bit richer to me with a creaminess and a mocha note that were not in the others. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
A brief summation? In the end, the differences were subtle and even tasting them side by side it was difficult to discern any significant differences. If I had to draw some conclusions, I would argue that the White is more pear, while the Gray is more peach, and the Black is more cherry (with some chocolate), but the differences were slight—I even wondered if I had been influenced since I knew the combinations.
In fact, the entire time I spent tasting the three wines, I wondered if I would be able to discern them blind (i.e., without knowing which one was in my glass). Given my competitive nature, after another swig of each (and the taking of detailed, copious notes), I convinced myself I could. So I asked my wife to pour me all three, blind and I would then triumphantly identify each wine.
Well, that did not go well.
I failed miserably.
Well, I got one right, but the probability of getting at least one right through random guessing is 66.7% (a shout-out to all you math geeks in the crowd).
I am holding out hope that my wife forgot the order in which she poured them (I had asked her to write it down immediately, but she demurred, thus instilling considerable doubt, at least in my mind).
The fact of the matter is that these three wines are essentially 85% the same, so the fact that I failed miserably on the blind tasting does not hurt all that much (although a part of me is still convinced that my wife screwed up–she had one job, after all).
Yeah, I did not tell her that. Call me a lot of things but, hopefully, “stupid” is not one of them.