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>Five Rivers, 2012 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir,</strong> 13.5 percent alcohol, $15. A budget-wise pinot with great appeal. Layered flavors of bright cherry, black raspberry, jasmine and sandalwood. Crisp acidity. Ripe tannins. Seamless texture.
<strong>Bonterra, 2011 Mendocino County, California Zinfandel,</strong> 14.5 percent, $16. A tasty zin with notes of blackberry, red raspberry, toasty oak and vanilla. Has a nice kick of cracked black pepper. Zesty finish.
<strong>Champ de Reves, 2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir,</strong> 14.5 percent, $40. A pinot with deep cherry fruit and great minerality. Notes of cranberry, blueberry and spice. Good bones (structure).
<strong>J Vintage Brut, 2007 Russian River Valley,</strong> 12.5 percent, $48. A striking sparkler with a range of flavors — Meyer lemon, tangerine, honey and brioche. Creamy texture. Nice length.