SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - USA
Owner and winemaker Justin Willett started Tyler winery in 2005 - his first vintage a modest eight barrels. Previously he had worked in vineyard management as well as assistant to winemaker Joe Davis at Arcadian. Emerging when the market’s appetite was for full-bodied wine with high alcohol content, in a very short space of time he has established himself as a leader in the movement to make balanced, harmonious wines. He is a very serious and talented young man dedicated to making the Burgundian style of wine loved by so many. Careful viticulture and low impact winemaking are guiding principles.
In Justin’s own words:“Tyler is dedicated to producing wines of delicacy and balance, where structure and nuance are favoured above all else. Our focus is exclusively on exceptional vineyard sites throughout the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley within Santa Barbara County, and we feel Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the best mediums to express each vineyard site. Within these two appellations, the unique combination of marine-based soils, transverse ranges and valleys, and cool ocean influence make this a truly wonderful place for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.”
The winemaking process starts in the vineyard where Justin leases special plots of some of the oldest vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Rita Hills. The grapes are harvested at the optimum time to retain fruit and acidity, and are then handled with utmost care in the winery to avoid any level of over-extraction. The only addition of any kind is a minimal amount of sulphur prior to bottling, and the resulting wines are fine, elegant and restrained, with deep acidity and mineral tension.
Tyler La Rinconada Chardonnay 2014
94 points, Antonio Galloni -“The 2014 Chardonnay La Rinconada Vineyard encapsulates so many of the attributes that make the Tyler Chardonnays deeply appealing. A slight hint of reduction appears first, before the wine blossoms on the mid-palate and finish. The Rinconada is a Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay with distinct elements of minerality and phenolic intensity that recall the Chardonnays of Santa Maria. In other words, it is a wonderfully complete and deeply satisfying Chardonnay to savour over the next handful of years. This is Justin Willett's second vintage working with La Rinconada Chardonnay. Last year it went into the appellation wine, but in 2014 he bottled it separately.”
Tyler Bien Nacido Pinot Noir 2013
94 points, Wine Advocate, Issue #220 -“A selection of old and young vines from one of the greatest sites in the Santa Maria Valley, the 2013 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido was completely de-stemmed and aged 14 months in 25% new French oak. Stunningly perfumed, with awesome raspberry, black raspberry, rose petal and crushed-rock nuances, this beauty is medium-bodied, elegant and seamless, with building richness and a distinct briny minerality on the finish. Count me a fan and this beauty will benefit from a year in the cellar and drink nicely through at least 2023.”
Tyler La Encantada Pinot Noir 2013
93 points, Wine Advocate, Issue #220 -“From mostly loam and sandy soils on the southern side of the appellation, the 2013 Pinot Noir La Encantada (this vineyard was planted in 2000) offers a big blast of cassis fruits, toasted spice and floral notes in an exceedingly pure, balanced and fresh style. Justin said that this cuvee wasn't the most flashy on release, but that it ages great. Medium-bodied, classy and balanced, with good acidity and freshness, give it a year or so and drink bottles through 2025.”