2020 Tyler Winery, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County.
The latest releases from Tyler are quite delicious and one of my favorites in winemaker Justin Willett’s collection is this regular Santa Barbara County Chard, with its energy and mouth feel providing a nice tension and pleasure on the smooth medium bodied palate, it is an impressive wine and a top notch bargain too. This 2020 starts with citrus blossom, clove spice and bright yellow fruits before opening up to layers of apple, Asian pear, lemon and subtle tropical fruits wrapped up in a stony and steely frame along with wet river rocks, leesy bread dough, saline and delicate wood shading. Coming from sustainable vineyard sites grown on sandy loams, this bottling always showcases cool climate intensity and a depth of flavors, which is a hallmark of Willett’s wines. The wines I tried recently all showed beautiful restraint and vibrancy, with this wine being a sleek and rewarding wine to be enjoyed over the next 3 to 5 years.
Justin, who start the Tyler label in 2005, believes the winemaking starts in the vineyard and he says that he has sincere desire to have minimal impact on the environment, with all of his grapes being farmed organically, with his wines having grapes that handpicked at night, and then carefully sorted by hand at the winery before de-stemming and crushing them. In the cellar, Willett adds, that all lots are fermented using native yeast in large oak vats, and once his must and juice are dry the wines are then put down to barrel for their elevage. Everything here is all about transparency and balance and these wines have a big following, especially the Chardonnays, which are somewhat counter culture with their freshness and mineral tones being quite the opposite of the oaky and buttery style that dominates the perception of what California Chardonnay is. The Tyler wines are full of personality and vitality, but still have a rewarding textual quality and go great with a range of cuisine choices, with both the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay delivering plenty of excitement.
($34 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive