Press Democrat wine writer Peg Melnik scopes out wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good value and the occasional splurge.

This week's picks (prices are retail; restaurant markup varies):

<strong>Whitehaven, 2013 Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc,</strong> 13 percent alcohol, $20. A sassy sauvignon blanc that's grassy and tropical. Aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lime and a hint of jalape? makes it edgy. A tasty pick if you like New Zealand-styled sauvignon blancs.

<strong>Flora Springs, 2011 Napa Valley Merlot,</strong> 13.5 percent, $25. A striking, earthy merlot that's seamless. It has depth, with notes of concentrated cherry, herbs and black pepper. Lingering finish.

<strong>The Prisoner, 2012 Napa Valley Red Wine,</strong> 15.2 percent, $40. A jammy blend with a big personality. Aromas and flavors of black raspberry, cherry and pepper. Ripe, but not over-the-top.

<strong>Masut, 2012 Mendocino County Pinot Noir, 1</strong>3.9 percent, $40. A pinot with gorgeous raspberry and dark fruit, buoyed by racy acidity. It's bright, with a great underpinning of herbs and toast. Nice length. Silky mouth-feel.

<strong>Kenwood Vineyards, 2009 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon,</strong> 14.5 percent, $75. A decadent cab well worth the dinero if you can spare it. Elegant and complex with a range of flavors -#8212; black raspberry, cassis, mint and white pepper. Great bones (good structure), but it manages to also have full-throttle fruit. Impressive.

<em>Want to share a current wine on your favorite restaurant's list? E-mail peg.melnik@ or check out her Tasting Room blog at</em>