2021 Tyler, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.
Justin Willett’s Tyler label is all about Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, highlighted by fresh cool climate detailing, low alcohol and beautiful textures, these are very coveted and lovely wines, which I recently got a chance to taste through again with Willett’s 2020 Chardonnays really standing out, along with a new for me Happy Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon and this brilliant 2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir. Coming from the Sta. Rita Hills, this dry and crisply focused Rosé shines nicely in the glass with a delicate pale salmon/pink hue and is bursting with energy on the zesty light framed palate, but there’s more complexity and flavor that you’d think, making it one of the more exciting new Rosés made from this grape I’ve tried so far this year. The profile is subtle and mineral driven with Pinot character showing throughout with bright tart cherry leading the way with hints of spice, wet stones and rosewater in the background, gaining zippy ruby citrus notes and lingering strawberries. It looks like Willet nailed the early pick for low Brix, lots of acidity and still with good ripeness to give grace and pleasure here, making for a Rosé of impact and substance that can stand up to many food choices and is a beautiful refreshing sipper for these warm months of Summer. 2021 really delivered the goods for awesome Rosé, and this might be the best yet from this winery, it will be best enjoyed with mussels in spicy broth and or with beach picnics. Tyler got the grapes for this Rosé from multiple vineyard sites that Willett works with for his main Pinot Noir lineup, brought in before they got too much sugar to make this bone dry and tasty version.
Now one of the top winemakers in the Santa Barbara region, Justin “Tyler” Willett founded Tyler back in 2005, at the tender age of 24, starting with a couple of barrels that he says he tucked away in the corner of the Sta. Rita Hills cellar where he was working at the time as an assistant winemaker. Even from his early days Willett got a lot of attention for his wines and he developed his much praised restrained and taut style, again, it was his Chards that really drew me in and they still do, especially his basic Sta. Rita Hills bottling that is one of the best values in the state and his new and impressive signature Mae Estate, which I just got to sample for the first time last week. Tyler’s new Estate Vineyard, where he sources fruit for the Mae lineup is located in a cool zone of the Sta. Rita Hills, set on the sandy soils and has 28 acres planted to select clones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and some Syrah, that I’ve not tried yet, but am looking forward too, it is a site that will, as it matures, become the main focus of the winery. Willett won’t forget the collection of vineyards he’s been using though, he long been a champion of old vines, as Justin notes, and is grateful to have famed some of the most historic vineyards of the Santa Barbara area, including what he calls the region-defining Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, in the Sta. Rita Hills. The Rosé, sourced from a very different sites in the SRH, was gently pressed by its own weight and saw very minimal skin contact, then fermented in stainless steel using native yeasts. Willett then moved the juice to neutral French oak for a few months, that allowed for the excellent vinous quality found here, before going back to stainless, to preserve purity prior to its bottling. This delightful stuff is well worth chasing down and drinking over the next 6 months to a year.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive