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):
J. Lohr, 2010 Paso Robles South Ridge Syrah, 13.5 percent alcohol, $11. A syrah with a great concentration of black and red fruit. It's ripe, but it's not over the top. Nice structure.
Blue Nose, 2010 Sonoma County Syrah, 14.5 percent, $25. A tasty syrah with layered flavors. Notes of blackberry, black cherry, herbs and spice. Great backbone. Nice acidity.
Longboard Vineyards, 2008 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Syrah, 14.3 percent, $28. A complex syrah with notes of blackberry, blueberry, herbs and spice. Bright acidity. Spicy finish.
Balletto, 2011 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 13.7 percent, $29. A bright pinot with good structure. Notes of rhubarb, violet and spice. Crisp acidity. Balanced.
Chalone Vineyard, 2010 Monterey County Pinot Noir, 13.5 percent, $37. A lively pinot noir with bright flavors of bing cherry, raspberry, leather and spice. Good acid. Nice length.