When it comes to the 2009 Meiomi Pinot Noir (about $22 at wine shops and wine-savvy markets), there are two words you need to bear in mind from the outset: Fig Newtons.
A hint of what is to come is right there on the wine's subtle nose, where two distinct flavors harmonize: a top note of fresh blackberry and a deep bottom note of ripe fig. But that lovely aroma is just a hint. It's not until first sip that the huge Fig Newton wallop of slightly sweet fig and toasty cookie rolls over your palate like a cookielicious tidal wave.
It may sound odd, but the taste is as agreeable as it is astonishing. Through midpalate, that first unmistakable burst is mellowed and nuanced by light vanilla and more of the ripe blackberry fruit. The long, satisfying finish introduces to the melange a little cola zing right at the end.
All in all, this is a buoyant and rewarding sipper from first to last, food-friendly but lovely on its own, too. We would pair this blend of pinot noir grapes from three coastal California counties — Sonoma (47 percent), Santa Barbara (34 percent) and Monterey (19 percent) — with grilled lamb kebabs in a bold Mediterranean marinade as a main course or with mildly pungent semisoft cheeses like Morbier after dinner.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.