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):
Smoking Loon, 2012 California White Wine Blend "White Loonatic," 13.5 percent alcohol, $10. An aromatic white blend with delicate flavors of nectarine, honey and white peach. Bright and lively, a breezy white that's turning heads.
Trione, 2010 Pinot Noir River Road Ranch, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, 14.2 percent, $35. Earthy, with notes of black cherry, plum and spice. Lush texture. Bright acid. Nice length.
Gary Farrell, 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 14.1 percent, $35. A rich, vibrant chardonnay, buoyed by crisp acidity. Layered flavors of honey, citrus and spice. Lingering finish.
Gracianna, 2011 Bacigalupi Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.8 percent, $48. A pinot with good bones — a nice structure — and one that also manages to be fleshy. Juicy cherry with notes of herbs and spice. Generous.