2017 Sling | Stone, Pinot Noir, Monterey County.
Another exciting wine from one of Monterey’s newest labels, the Monterey County Pinot Noir from Sling | Stone wines is ripe and well detailed with classic dark Pinot fruit and nice fresh acidity and silky texture. Francisco “Junior” Banuelos’ of Sling | Stone Wines, is an assistant winemaker at Odonata Winery based in the Santa Lucia Highlands on River Road has released an impressive collection of wines including a couple of Pinot Noir(s), this being one of them, an already crucially acclaimed Syrah and his exciting Silacci Vineyard Chardonnay, which I reviewed back in March. Junior’s small lot wines are well worth searching out, especially his Pinot with its expressive nature that highlights the vintage’s character and the regions flavors with sweet black cherry, raspberry and plum bursting from the glass along with a hint of spice, earth and light toasty notes as well as a touch of blood orange and baking spices. I found this bottle I got from Jessica Trask at Village Wine and Taproom, after tasting this vintage at her place a few times, and before I dig into the Sling | Stone 2018s, I wanted to see how this one was doing and it is better now and I’m really excited for the 2018 version, which was sourced from the Knott Family Vineyard and saw a touch of new French oak.

Banuelos is part of talented group of Monterey winemakers that are changing the scene here and he was inspired by the likes of his boss at Odonata Dennis Hoey, Ian Brand, Russell Joyce, Samuel Louis Smith, head winemaker at Morgan as well as doing his own wines, Scott Shapely of Roar and Flywheel, as well as established superstar Jeff Pisoni, along with a few others of tight group of a new generation in the area that have changed the face of Monterey’s wines. The wines, especially the 2018 and the 2019 vintages are going to be legendary for Monterey and they are going to show the regions full potential and moves the bar way up in terms of quality and style, which is more authentic, less fruit bomb and more vibrant with less alcohol. It’s great to see these guys take risks and put their vision out there, these are wines that have distinct and unique personalities that also highlight the diverse micro terroirs within California’s largest growing region. The dark ruby and delicious 2017 Monterey County Pinot by Sling | Stone is fabulous with food and it opens up aromatically with air, it is hitting a great spot, I can only imagine how good the 2018 will be, definitely it is a wine I will explore soon, plus Junior’s partial whole cluster Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir that is just being released now.
($32 ESt.) 91 Points, grapelive

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