Press Democrat wine writer Peg Melnik scopes out wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good values and the occasional splurge. This week's picks (prices are retail; restaurant markup varies):
Dry Creek Vineyard 2010 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5 percent alcohol, $25. This cab is a budget-savvy pick with great bones (structure). It has juicy flavors of cherry and black cherry, with notes of herb and white pepper. Excellent.
Dutton Goldfield, 2012 Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 13.5 percent alcohol, $38. A smart chardonnay with complex fruit flavors — ripe apple, Meyer lemon and tangerine. It also has a creamy texture, with a kiss of vanilla. Absolutely lovely.
Thomas George Estates, 2010 Baker Ridge Vineyard Estate Wine, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.2 percent, $60. A rich, seamless pinot with striking flavors. Notes of Bing cherry, herbs and white pepper. A standout.
Duckhorn Vineyards, 2010 Rector Creek Vineyard, Napa Valley Merlot, 14.5 percent, $90. A striking merlot with depth. It's sophisticated, with a seamless texture, and It has intriguing notes of blueberry, plum and allspice. A spendy, albeit worthy, pick for the holidays.
Matanzas Creek, 2010 Journey Red Wine, 15 percent, $100. A plush red wine with well-integrated tannins. It has a seamless texture and deep, rich notes of cherry, black cherry, herbs and pepper. Worth the splurge.
Want to share a current wine on your favorite restaurant's list? E-mail peg.melnik@ pressdemocrat.com or check out her Tasting Room blog at pressdemocrat.com.