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>Reata, 2012 Carneros Chardonnay, 14.3 percent alcohol,</strong> $20. A layered chardonnay with notes of apple, honeysuckle and peach. Slightly sweet. Nice length.

<strong>Frei Brothers, 2011 Alexander Valley Reserve, Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon,</strong> 14.2 percent, $23. A cab with a lot going on for the price. Layered, with notes of blackberry, cassis, eucalyptus and toasty oak. Lingering finish.

<strong>Palmeri, 2011 Van Ness Vineyard, Alexander Valley Syrah,</strong> 14.7 percent, $42. A powerful syrah with rich fruit flavors. Smoky, with notes of blackberry, herbs and cracked black pepper. Seamless.

<strong>B.R. Cohn, 2009 Olive Hill Vineyards Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon,</strong> 14.3 percent, $44. A supple cab with complexity. Aromas and flavors of black currant, cherry, plum and anise. Ripe tannins. Long finish.

<strong>Duckhorn Vineyards, 2010 Atlas Peak, Napa Valley Merlot,</strong> 14.5 percent, $70. A tasty merlot with a great concentration of fruit and a seamless texture. Briary, with aromas and flavor of berry, herbs and spice. Nice length. A serious merlot.

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