Press Democrat wine writer Peg Melnik scopes out restaurant wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good value and the occasional splurge. This week's picks (prices are retail; restaurant markup varies):
Buena Vista, 2010 Viticultural Society Sonoma Merlot, 13.5 percent alcohol, $15. A bold merlot with notes of blackberry, herbs and tea leaves. Nice kick of spice.
Alexander Valley Vineyards, 2010 Alexander Valley Sonoma County Merlot, 14 percent, $20. A seamless merlot with good structure. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry, plum and spice. Nice length.
Anaba, 2010 Naggiar Vineyard, Sierra Foothills Mourvedre, 14.5 percent, $40. A bright mourvedre with concentrated flavors. Aromas and flavors of tangy fruit, herbs and spice. Has an edge. Long finish.
Dutton Goldfield, 2011 Walker Hill Vineyard, Dutton Ranch, Green Valley of Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 14.1 percent, $50. A rich chardonnay with toasty oak. Notes of melon, pear, herbs and spice. Lush texture. Lingering finish.
Celani Family Vineyards, Tenacious, 2010 Napa Valley Red Wine, 14.8 percent, $60. A red blend with depth. Notes of blackberry, cassis and spice. Nice acid. Firm tannins.