Much to my surprise, the gathering at Boccelle restaurant in Melbourne's trendy Carlton district - with about 20 participants - turned out to have a Zinfandel theme, with an intriguing lineup of old and new Zins from California and Down Under. I took very quick and casual notes in the Palm Pilot, allowing a quick data dump. Here's a quick look at the wines we tasted:
Turley 1993 Moore Earthquake Vineyard Zinfandel - Earthy, jammy, huge.
Dry Creek Vineyard 1994 Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel - Complex old-Zin aromas, earthy, damp hay and sweet red fruit.
Dry Creek Vineyard 1995 Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel - Raspberries, vinous. Lots of fruit, good balance.
Cline 1997 Bridgehead Vineyard Contra Costa County Zinfandel - Big berry fruit with funky barnyard notes. Big and ripe, tart and long.
Cline 1997 Ancient Vines California Zinfandel - Warm and plummy, full and ripe.
Cline 1998 Ancient Vines California Zinfandel - Ripe blackberries and raspberries, big and up-front. Classic Zin.
Kangarilla Road 1996 McLaren Vale Zinfandel - Minty, peppery, Full, exuberantly fruity, juicy and sweet. Perceptibly Zin, but also unmistakably Australian.
Kangarilla Road 1998 McLaren Vale Zinfandel - Soft berry fruit, ripe and sweet.
Kangarilla Road 1999 McLaren Vale Zinfandel - Warm and plummy, soft and ripe. More Zinlike than the '96 or '98.
Cape Mentelle 1996 Margaret River Zinfandel - Fresh cherry-berry fruit and licorice, full and ripe, jammy and powerful.
Peel Estate 1994 Western Australia Zinfandel - Pruney, herbal. Black fruit and sweet licorice, big and hot. A junkyard dog of a wine.
Kingston Estate 1998 Victoria Zinfandel - Warm, raisiny, notes of anise and berries. Full berry fruit, juicy and tart.
Rosenblum 1997 Continente Vineyard Contra Costa County Zinfandel - Good ripe berry fruit, mouth-filling and ripe.
Rosenblum 1996 Contra Costa County Zinfandel - Raisins and plums over ripe blackberries. Big, raisiny, soft and sweet.
Ridge 1995 Pagani Ranch California Zinfandel - Lovely developed aromas of berries, anise and leather on the nose and palate. Big but balanced.
Ridge 1995 California Lytton Springs - Deep black fruit, textured and refined.
Ridge 1997 California Lytton Springs - Blackberries and saddle leather, big and ripe.
Alderbrook 1996 OVOC Sonoma County Zinfandel - Anise and black fruit; big and hot.
Alderbrook 1997 OVOC Sonoma County Zinfandel - Light berries aroma, more open on the palate, fresh and ripe.
Clos du Val 1997 Napa/El Dorado/San Joaquin Zinfandel - Aromatic licorice, fat black fruit, lemon-squirt acidity.
St. Francis 1997 Old Vines Sonoma County Zinfandel - Minty eucalyptus, odd for a Zin; leathery black-fruit flavor.
Kenwood 1998 Old Vines Lodi Zinfandel - Vinous berries, juicy fruit and a hint of alcoholic heat.
Francis Coppola 1997 Diamond Series Red Label Zinfandel - Closed nose. Plummy and warm, opens in the glass to layered mixed-berry fruit.