2019 Sling | Stone Wines, Chardonnay, Silacci Vineyard, Monterey County -photo grapelive

2019 Sling | Stone Wines, Chardonnay, Silacci Vineyard, Monterey County.
A great new addition to the new generation wine scene in the Monterey region is Francisco “Junior” Banuelos’ Sling | Stone (or Sling & Stone) Wines label and his latest set of wines which include a couple of Pinot Noir(s), an already crucially acclaimed Syrah and this exciting Silacci Vineyard Chardonnay. This tasty Chard, that I managed to get a preview bottle of, that comes from a premier cool climate Cru site just north of the Santa Lucia Highlands is well worth getting your hands on when Banuelos releases it. Junior is one of good guys and one of the most engaging and humble winemakers you’d ever hope to meet, so it is easy to love his wines, but the wines do speak for themselves with a quiet confidence and expressive quality, and I love the not so subtle and ironic label, with Sling | Stone clearly referring to the David v. Goliath struggle young winemakers of limited means face and the determination and courage it takes to make it. This Silacci Chardonnay is ripe and plush showing lovely white blossoms and fuji apple on the nose leading to a vibrant medium to full bodied palate of peach, lemon, the mentioned apple and melon fruits along with honeysuckle, a touch of apricot preserves, clove spice, and a loamy wet stone element. This Chardonnay is young and freshly vivid, ever changing and with air it takes on a really exceptional mineral or steely form and it displays an extra level of complexity that makes you want to take another sip and share its pleasures in the glass. There was a little extra meaning and care put into this wine, which was dedicated to the late Rusti Silacci, who sadly passed last September and who is greatly missed. The Silacci Vineyard, with a tiny Chardonnay parcel, is a great site, especially for Pinot Noir, that was rumored to be Pisoni clone, is east facing, set on Chualar sandy loams and gets lots of hang time, constantly cooled by the blast of cold Pacific Ocean air, allowing full development of the grapes, while retaining plenty of juicy acidity.

Junior, who’s day job is being the assistant winemaker at Denis Hoey’s Odonata Winery on River Road in the Santa Lucia Highlands, took an interesting route here on his Silacci Chardonnay deciding to barrel ferment it and then age it in 100% stainless steel, but was rewarded with a wine that delivers a rich mouth feel and keeps racy and fresh. There is a real California sense about this wine with its opulence and slightly tropical nature, it doesn’t hide its pride of place and it will only get deeper as it ages. There is no doubt this set of 2018 and 2019 wines from “Junior” Banuelos are going to make Sling | Stone a name on peoples lips, these are solid efforts, these are wines that really say “I have arrived” and I’m here to stay! That is an impressive achievement for a guy that looked like had not much of chance to making it in this business only a few years ago, but fate looks to have shined on Banuelos. His start was one of those chance moments that don’t always come, he was working in his parents gas station in Gonzales, when Hoey’s winery truck came coasting to halt, out of gas and he managed to talk his way into a job! This was especially heartwarming as he had literary sent hundreds of resumes out to the wine community and had no replies until Hoey appeared out of the blue, and the rest is history. There are a few upcoming releases to watch for here with Sling | Stone about to bring out a Tondre Grapefield partial whole cluster Pinot Noir, which will likely thrill those that missed out on that awesome 40% whole cluster Syrah, that sold out, as well as this lovely succulent Chardonnay that will go great with grilled swordfish and mango chutney or Baja California (spiny) lobster dishes. Only 28 cases were made of this Silacci Chardonnay, so it will be a quick sell out when it is released, so don’t miss it, plus that Tondre Pinot, keep an eye out for them, they will be let out in the wild soon.
($N/A) 92 Points, grapelive

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