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):

Native Son, 2012 Napa Valley Red Wine, Kuleto Estate, 14.8 percent alcohol, $20. A tasty red with layered flavors. Smoky, with notes of black plum, anise and peppercorn. A steal for the price.

Saint Gregory, 2012 Mendocino County Pinot Noir, 13.5 percent, $20. Burgundian in style, this pinot is earthy and has nice acid. Notes of black cherry, plum and toast. Balanced. Nice length.

Robert Biale Vineyards, 2012 Basic Black, Sonoma County Red Wine, 15.1 percent, $45. A seamless red with complex aromas and flavors. Notes of blackberry, strawberry, roasted herbs and mineral. Lingering finish. Lovely.

Lasseter Family Winery, 2013 L’ame du Sage, 15.1 percent, $48. A rich red with generous fruit. It’s concentrated and weighted to black fruit – blackberry and black cherry. Great bones (structure). Nice underpinning of spice. A gorgeous wine.

Paul Hobbs, 2012 Ulises Valdez Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, 14.3 percent, $70. This chardonnay is a knockout. It’s lush, yet balanced. Aromas and flavor of apple, lemon and mineral. Creamy texture. Stunning.

Want to share a current wine on your favorite restaurant’s list? or check out her Tasting Room blog at