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>Healdsburg Ranches, 2011 California Coastal Series Zinfandel</strong>, 14.5 percent alcohol, $13. A tasty zinfandel for the price. Briary, with aromas and flavors of cherry, blueberry and white pepper. Zesty finish. A good quaffer.

<strong>Greg Norman Estate, 2011 Shark Red Central Coast Red Blend,</strong> 13.9 percent, $15. A layered red blend that has a lot of flavors in the mix. Notes of blackberry pie, plum, blueberry, fig and sweet oak. Bright acidity. Crisp finish.

<strong>Robert Mondavi Winery, 2012 Napa Valley Carneros Pinot Noir,</strong> 14.5 percent, $26. An earthy pinot noir with complex aromas and flavors. Notes of cherry, white pepper, mineral and mushroom. Bright acidity. Lingering finish.

<strong>Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, 2011 Dry Creek Valley,</strong> 14.5 percent, $30. A zesty zin with muscle. Earthy with bright cherry, blackberry and cracked black pepper. Briary finish. A standout.

<strong>Steven Kent, 2012 "Merrillie" Livermore Valley Chardonnay,</strong> 14.7 percent, $34. A budget-savvy price for the caliber of this chardonnay. Complex and rich, with notes of pear, lemon curd and toast. Lingering finish.

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