2009 Balboa Reserve

Hello friends. Thanks in part to our list’s long history of supporting the winery, our friends at Balboa have offered us a substantial price break on a wine that is just entering peak drinking:

This began its life at a $40 price point. The winery was selling at close to that price but seems to have recently sold out their stock, so I think this parcel we’re accessing is the last of it. Tom Glase decided to discontinue the Reserve bottling after the 2009 vintage, and I suspect the Balboa folks are eager to sell through the last of it and focus their attention on their ongoing wines.

Whatever the reason, it’s a fine value for us. I was immediately interested when I saw that it was a Cab-Syrah blend (mostly; there are small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot as well), because Tom has an established track record of mastery with that category (old-timey list members still speak fondly of the 2006 Balboa Sayulita).

This one comes from two Walla Walla vineyards – Pepper Bridge as well as Balboa’s estate Eidolon Vineyard down in the rocks – plus Candy Mountain Vineyard. Aged for about a year and a half in barrel (all French oak), it clocks in at 14.6% listed alc, just about right for the warmer 2009 vintage. It was bottled in August 2011 and has now had an additional three years in bottle to sand down any rough edges.

The result is as you’d expect: a polished, classy marvel. It begins with a maturing nose that has terrific funky earthy and porcini mushroom notes to go with bright boysenberry fruit and dried raspberry. There’s still loads of lush, generous, primary 09-vintage fruit on the palate, carried on a silky, supple frame. That texture is where the additional time in bottle really shines through. The tannins are fine-grained and delicious, providing a final swallow all espresso bean and dark chocolate. But it was the earthy nose that kept me going back over and over again, a seductive reminder that this is a wine entering splendid middle age.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5/20pts.”

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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