2022 Tyler Winery, Chardonnay, Estate, Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Santa Barbara County.
A real sleeper in the Tyler lineup, this 2022 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay, which crafted using exclusively estate grapes from winekmaker Justin Willett’s Mae Vineyard, shows off a radiant array of golden apple, pear, zesty lemon and fresh peach fruits, which are backed up with mineral tones, white flowers, fig, subtle wood use, clove spice, stony notes and a delicate reductive leesy background, in a pretty and textural wine. This wine, I understand, is usually is a special regional blend of selected Willett farmed vineyards, including Fiddlestix, but for 2022 Willett decided to only use his own grapes, and this impresses for that single vineyard distinction, making for a delicious cool climate Burgundy inspired Chardonnay that sits between the enter level Santa Barbara County bottling and Willett’s signature Mae Estate version. There’s a lot to admire in the Tyler collection, with a fine range of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that already have an enthusiast following, with most grapes coming from sandy/loam soils and extremely Ocean influence of the Sta. Rita Hills. The Tyler label has a quality laced small lot group of wines, these include a vibrant dry Rosé of Pinot Noir, the basic Tyler Santa Barbera series of Chardonnay and Pinot, plus the top end Mae Estate efforts, along with a tiny release of Sanford & Benedict old vine Chardonnay.

Winemaker Justin Willett, as mentioned here in prior reviews, 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. Willett acquired Fiddlestix Vineyard in 2021, which was first planted in 1998, and is one of Sta. Rita Hills most iconic sites, set immediately adjacent to Sanford & Benedict in the southern corridor of the region, and will play an important role in the future. I highly recommend this wine, as well as all of the Tyler stable of offerings, along with Willett’s Lieu-Dit line, which is a Loire inspired set of wines, including his beautiful Chenin Blanc.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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