Press Democrat wine writer Peg Melnik scopes out restaurant wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good value and the occasional splurge. This week's picks (prices are retail; restaurant markup varies):
Robert Mondavi Winery, 2010 Napa Valley Carneros Pinot Noir, 14.5 percent alcohol, $27. A pinot with tart cherry, bright acidity, herbs and spice. Balanced. Nice length.
Calera, 2009 de Villiers Vineyard, Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir, 14.4 percent, $35. A tasty pinot with a lot going on. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, dark plum, anise and spice. Ripe tannins. Seamless texture.
Schramsberg, 2009 Blanc de Blancs Brut, 12.7 percent, $37. A striking sparkler with layered flavors. Notes of green apple, pear, brioche and mineral. Creamy texture. Good lift. Nice mousse.
Hartford, 2010 Russian River Valley Old Vine Zinfandel, 15.5 percent, $38. A tasty zin with a seamless texture. Notes of black raspberry, pepper and coffee. Nice length.
Chappellet, 2009 Napa Valley Merlot, 15.1 percent, $38. A merlot with intensity. Aromas and flavors of blackberry, herbs and spice. Firm tannins.
Le Cigare Volant, 2008 Bonny Doon Vineyard Red Wine, 14.2 percent, $45. A lively red blend with notes of blackberry, cassis, herbs and black pepper. Smoky. The blend is 45 percent grenache; 30 percent syrah; 13 percent mourvedre; 7 percent cinsault and 5 percent carignane.
Provenance Vineyards, 2008 Napa Valley, Rutherford Sauvignon Cabernet Barrel Select, 14.5 percent, $45. A cab with a great concentration of fruit. Notes of blackberry, anise and cracked black pepper. Nice bones. Juicy. Firm tannins.