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):
Ravenswood, 2009 Sonoma County Zinfandel, Single Vineyard Big River Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, 15 percent alcohol, $19. A snappy zin with a lot of personality. Notes of blackberry, black cherry, cinnamon and cracked black pepper. Firm tannins. Great structure. Zesty finish.
Pali, 2011 Alphabets, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 13.3 percent, $21. This pinot is refreshingly red, with notes of cranberry, red raspberry and dried cherry. Hint of cinnamon and white pepper. Balanced with bright acidity. Firm tannins. Smoky.
Gloria Ferrer, N.V. Sonoma County Brut, 12.5 percent, $22. A very tasty sparkler with notes of apple, strawberry, lemon and toast. Strikingly citrusy. Nice mousse.
Iron Horse, 2007 Classic Vintage Brut, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, 13.5 percent, $38. A lovely sparkler with refreshing acidity. Fruit forward but it has good structure. It's rich but it backs it up with good minerality. Nice mousse.
Etoile, Domaine Chandon, N.V. Brut North Coast, 13 percent, $40. An opulent bubbly that's rich and supple, but it also manages to have bright acidity. Notes of brioche, baked apple, honey and cinnamon. Nice length.