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>Chandon, NV California Blanc de Noirs, 1</strong>3 percent alcohol, $22. A lovely sparkler with a creamy texture and a kiss of strawberry. Bright acidity. Nice mousse.
<strong>Arrowood, 2011 Alary Vineyards, Russian River Valley Chardonnay,</strong> 13.5 percent, $35. A tropical chardonnay with good structure and crisp acidity. Notes of apple, pear and vanilla. Rich, but manages to have good balance. Bright finish.
<strong>Dry Creek Vineyard, 2011 DCV2 Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, Four Clones Vineyard Zinfandel,</strong> 14.5 percent, $38. A bold zin with snappy spice. Aromas and flavors of cherry, berry and cracked black pepper. Zesty finish.
<strong>Loring Wine Company, 2012 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay,</strong> 14.9 percent, $43. A sexy chardonnay with a seamless texture. Aromas and flavors of apple, pear and cr?e brulee. Lingering finish.
<strong>Duckhorn, 2009 Stout Vineyard, Napa Valley Merlot,</strong> 14.5 percent, $85. A seamless merlot with layered flavors. Concentrated fruit flavors. Notes of berry, herbs and pepper. Nice length.