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):

Cline, 2012 Cashmere California Rhone Red Blend, 14.5 percent alcohol, $14. A tasty Rhone red blend with a mix of red raspberry, bright cranberry and cassis. Ripe, but not over the top. A budget-savvy pick.

Groundwork, 2011 Central Coast, Grenache, 14.7 percent, $20. A ripe red that's turning heads. It has juicy red fruit, a lush texture and notes of herbs and pepper. A steal for the caliber of wine.

Carlisle, 2011 Pagani Ranch, Sonoma Valley Zinfandel, 15.8 percent, $45. A briary zin with depth. Aromas and flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, herbs and pepper. Juicy. A knockout.

Loring Wine Company, 2012 Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 14.9 percent, $50. A jammy, big boy pinot with gorgeous fruit and great concentration. Layered with notes of black cherry, anise and cracked black pepper.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, 2011 Esprit de Tablas Rhone Red Blend, 14.5 percent, $55. A Rhone blend with a lovely earthiness. Notes of mushroom, herbs cherry and pepper. A smart pick.

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