After a late night at work, my husband and I took the easy route and had dinner at Primehouse, an Award of Excellence-winning steakhouse conveniently across the street from the office. Facing a commute back to New Jersey, I was pleased to find a handful of tempting half-bottles, including the Ridge Geyserville 2005, a relative bargain at $42.
Ridge is almost always a good bet, and 2005 is an outstanding, structured vintage for California Zinfandel. Having visited Ridge's Lytton Springs facility, I admire the eco-friendly winery and tasting room, which is solar-powered and built of straw bales. The Geyserville bottling comes from a different site, in Sonoma's Alexander Valley, and is a blend of 77 percent Zinfandel, 17 percent Carignane (from 120-year-old vines) and just a bit of Petite Sirah.
The Zin really opened up in the glass, getting plusher over time, full of blackberry, spice and warm blueberry pie aromas. Its velvety texture melded with the juicy fruit and a hint of piecrust on the finish. With the hanger steak with chimichurri, the ripe fruit made a nice foil for the heat of the sauce. 89 points, non-blind.
RIDGE Geyserville California 2005 (88 points, $35)