Few of California's young winemakers possess the regional mastery that is illustrated by the work of Justin Willett, of Tyler winery. A son of Santa Barbara, Justin began Tyler in 2005 with eight barrels tucked away in the corner of Arcadian Winery, where he honed his approach to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as assistant winemaker. Justin – a champion of old vines – has since engaged the famed historic vineyards of Santa Barbara, including the region-defining Sanford & Benedict, in the Sta. Rita Hills, and more recently, Bien Nacido, in the Santa Maria Valley. He is looking forward, too: just last year, Justin began planting a Sta. Rita Hills estate vineyard – a forty-five acre property, with some twenty-six acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Here, in a winegrowing region defined by its transverse ranges and valleys, where hills glitter with marine sediment and harbor the ocean's winds, Justin makes wines of clarity and poise. His wines lead with structure and persistence; they evoke confidence, focus, and vibrancy. Justin is the first to tell you that these are virtues of terroir: they are not created in the cellar, but delicately drawn forth.

All grapes – both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – are handpicked at night, before being further sorted by hand at the winery. Pinot Noir is evaluated for stem-inclusion, and then the cold fruit is soaked for three to five days, until a native yeast fermentation begins. Both punch-downs and pump-overs are implemented; maceration often lasts some two weeks before the wine is pressed to tank and then barrel for elevage. The use of new oak varies by vineyard, vine age, and vintage, however most barrels used are neutral. After a year in barrel, the wine is racked, blended, and returned to barrel before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

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Tyler Pinot Noir 2016
90  Wine Advocate 
Wine Advocate 90 "The 2016 Pinot Noir from Tyler bursts from the glass with a pure and expressive bouquet of red plums, raspberries, rose hips and spice. On the palate, it's medium-bodied, supple and velvety, with an expansively textural attack, melting tannins, and succulent, mouthwatering acids.
Item Number: 29314
Case: $299.40

Tyler Chardonnay 2015
91  Vinous Media 
Vinous Media 91 "The 2015 Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County) is a terrific entry-level wine. Orchard fruit, baked apple, white flowers and mint are nicely delineated, but it is the wine's energy and pure, saline character that give tension and pedigree. What a gorgeous wine this is! -- Antonio

Tyler Chardonnay 2016
90  Wine Advocate 
Wine Advocate 90 "The 2016 Chardonnay is lovely, wafting from the glass with aromas of honeyed citrus, white flowers and struck match. On the palate, it's elegantly glossy, medium-bodied and pure, with lovely cut and a chalky, mouthwatering finish. It's still showing a touch of sulfur dioxide after