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Proprietor and winemaker Justin Willett worked as an assistant to Joe Davis at Arcadian after attending University of Pacific on a golf scholarship. In 2005, he started his own label specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in Santa Barbara County.
Justin's inspiration has come from local winemakers and European producers such as Roulot, Bonneau du Martray, Dujac, Bachelet and Rousseau. He only works with vineyards that allow him to play an active role in the vineyard. One example is old vine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Sanford & Benedict Vineyard.
The Tyler wines are vinfied from grapes that tend to be picked earlier than most with the aim of achieving bright aromatics and fresh flavors. A modest level of oak is use. He prefers wines with minerality bright acidity, and food-friendliness. A second label, Lieu Dit, features wines produced with no oak.
The wines are sold through a mailing list with some retail distribution. (Do not confuse with John Tyler Wines located in the Russian River Valley). Justin is also the estate winemaker for four different properties in Santa Barbara County (inbcluding Wenzlau Vineyard and Grassini Family Vineyard)
2017 Tyler Bien Nacido Vineyard - N Block Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $90. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is dominated by toasted oak aroma with a hint of cherry in the rear. Light to mid-weight in style, offering flavors of black cherry, blackberry, and savory herbs. The fruit load is shallow on both the mid palate and finish. Suave in the mouth and easy to drink, but the aggressive barrel presence spoils the experience. Score: 86. Reviewed August 29, 2020 ARTICLE »
2016 Tyler Bien Nacido Vineyard Old Vine Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $70. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is replete with oak-driven aromas of cigar, pipe bowl, ash and wood. Light to mid-weight in style, featuring juicy flavors of cherry, strawberry and savory herbs that are obscured by overbearing oak treatment. The redeeming features are a silky mouthfeel, gossamer tannins and a decent length of finish. Score: 86. Reviewed August 29, 2020 ARTICLE »
2005 Tyler Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $47. · Confected cherry with toasty oak, sage and a hint of alcohol on the nose. Red cherry-driven with complimentary savory herbs and oak. Easy on the palate finishing dry and a little sharp. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »
2005 Tyler Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $50. · The nose trumps the flavors here. Like an expensive perfume, the scents of black fruits, roses, and fresh green grass are alluring. A different story in the mouth where the black cherry fruit is tart and lean. A hefty acidic spine dominates throughout. Reviewed August 4, 2008 ARTICLE »