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Wine list

Press Democrat wine writer Peg Melnik scopes out wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good value and the occasional splurge.

This week's picks (prices are retail; restaurant markup varies):

Wente, 2012 Morning Fog Chardonnay, Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay, 13.5 percent alcohol, $15. A balanced chardonnay with aromas and flavors of green apple, toast and cinnamon. Bright acidity. Nice length.

Morgan, 2011 Monterey, Syrah-Grenache Rhone Blend, Cotes du Crows, 13.8 percent, $18. The Rhone-style blend is balanced and has ripe tannins. It's layered, with notes of blackberry, cherry and dried apricot. The blend is 60 percent syrah and 40 percent grenache. Impeccably balanced.

McFadden, 2012 Potter Valley Mendocino County Pinot Noir, 13.5 percent, $24. A full-bodied pinot noir that's rich with notes of cherry, herbs and spice. Bright, with high-toned fruit. Lingering finish.

Arrowood, 2011 Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River Valley Syrah, 13.5 percent, $30. An impressive syrah with complexity. A range of flavors — black cherry, plum and a kick of cracked black pepper. Edgy.

Justin, 2011 Isosceles Paso Robles Bordeaux Red Blend, 14.5 percent, $70. A bordeaux blend with great depth of flavor. Complex, with aromas and flavors of black cherry, currants and toasty oak. Lush. Worth the splurge.

Want to share a current wine on your favorite restaurant's list? E-mail peg.melnik@ pressdemocrat.com or check out her Tasting Room blog at tastingroom.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

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