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):
Frei Brothers Reserve, 2012 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Zinfandel, 14.8 percent alcohol, $20. A snappy zin with layered flavors. It has a great fruit component — blueberry and raspberry jam. This zin backs up the fruit with a kick of spice — anise and cracked black pepper. A good value.
CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs, 2013 Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14.1 percent, $25. This is a knockout. There’s so much to appreciate here. Aromas and flavors of apple, pear, apricot and a hint of lime. It’s rich, yet balanced. Quite a find.
Francis Coppola Reserve, 2012 Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.5 percent, $38. This is a tasty pinot with bright, red fruit. Notes of cherry, raspberry herbs and oak. It’s a lush wine, with a nice underpinning of spice.
Medlock Ames, 2010 Small Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, 13.9 percent, $55. This cab has a great concentration of fruit and a range of flavors. Notes of blackberry, cigar box and mocha. Firm tannins. Nice length.
Justin Isosceles, 2010 Paso Robles Bordeaux Red Blend, 15 percent, $62. This blend has some intensity. It’s a great melding of flavors — black cherry, currant, toasty oak and a hint of vanilla. The blend is 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, 8 percent cab franc, and 7 percent merlot. This is quite a tasty, well-crafted Bordeaux blend.