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):
Carmel Road, 2011 Panorama Vineyard, Monterey Pinot Noir, 15 percent alcohol, $35. A seamless pinot noir with layered flavors of raspberry, cherry, herbs and cracked black pepper. Nice minerality. Lingering finish.
Beringer Vineyards, 2012 Luminus Oak Knoll Napa Valley Chardonnay, 14.3 percent, $39. An elegant chardonnay with great acidity. Aromas and flavors of melon, lemon and spice. Nice length.
CrossBarn, 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5 percent, $40. A concentrated cab with great structure and firm tannins. Notes of boysenberry, black cherry and anise. Juicy.
Austin Hope, 2011 Hope Family Vineyard, Paso Robles Grenache,
15 percent, $42. A Grenache with bright racy fruit — cranberry, raspberry and plum. Balanced. A black-pepper finish.
Long Meadow Ranch, 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5 percent, $47. A standout with gorgeous fruit. Notes of black raspberry, anise and pepper. Seamless texture. Plush.