Staff Favorites - Gary Westby

Gary Westby
Gary Westby  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
I started at K&L in February of 2000, after 4 years of working down the street for another retailer, and although I take care of the Champagne buying here at K&L, I love to drink wine from all over the world. I prize authenticity in wine, and love representative examples of many different styles, whether it is a spicy dry creek zinfandel or a mineral driven Manzanilla. I almost always drink my wine with food, and am drawn to food wines rather than the softer styles that are good for drinking on their own. My wife Cinnamon and I cook a lot of Italian & French food at home, and my list of wines reflects those food choices. I also love value, at every price point, and can't stand "prestige" labels that under deliver in the bottle. I love honest wines for the table. If you love good wine to go with your good cooking too, I think that by joining my personal Sommelier list you will be treated to a wide variety of wines that represent a strong value for money at what ever price range you feel comfortable with. Give it a try!


Reviews

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Riedel "O" Riesling/S. Blanc/Zin/Sangiovese Wine Tumbler 414/15
Review Date: 1-25-2013
Every wine fan should own a pair of these great tumblers. They are just as good for drinking out of as the Vinum Zinfandel/ Chianti which says a lot, since that glass is the most flexible instrument I have ever enjoyed wine from. Since they have no stem, they fit in cupboards that would not fit regular glasses and you can't break the stem off of them, which is the most common way glasses break. The best thing is, that if you keep the two glass box they come in, you can take them anywhere with you. No more Dixie cups for your wine on picnics, no more awful thick, rolled hotel room glasses ruining your carefully chosen vacation wine!
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

Riedel Vinum Prestige Champagne 6416/48
Review Date: 1-25-2013
This is a great design for drinking Champagne. While I prefer to taste our of a regular wine glass for the larger bowl that allows more aroma to develop and a wider pour of liquid over my tongue at work, this is a great shape when you have more time to spend with the Champagne. The tulip shape allows the bubbles to cascade up and makes the wine a lot more enjoyable to look at than a regular wine glass. It also has a wide enough opening at the top to allow one to smell the Champagne and pours widely enough across the tongue to taste properly. Straight sided flutes are very hard on Champagne- if you are still using them, you should audition a pair of these Riedels!
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

Riedel Cabernet Decanter 750ml 1440/13
Review Date: 1-25-2013
Cinnamon and I collect decanters, and use them almost every night we are home drinking still wine. At last count we had 30 of the things, taking up a lot of the surfaces in the house- on top of the liquor cabinet, on top of the record racks and on the kitchen counters. This is the one that we use most, and for good reason. It takes up the least amount of space on the table, pours the best, cleans up easily, and inverts nicely for drying. If you are only going to have one decanter, this should be it! If you buy a second, take a look at another shape, otherwise you will forget which wine is in which carafe at dinner parties!
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

Riedel Sommeliers Burgundy 4400/16 (Can't Ship)
Review Date: 1-25-2013
Are these glasses fragile, expensive and to large to store easily? Do they put a magnifying focus on any flaw in an average Pinot? Yes- guilty as charged! I don't recommend them to everyone, but for the right home there is simply no better glass. Cinnamon and I have owned six of these for more than a decade, used them at least once a week, and never broken one. If you love Burgundy and elegant Pinot Noir from other parts of the world, and are willing to invest the time to hand wash these incomparable glasses and the money to purchase them, you will not be disappointed!
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

Stiegl Brauerei "Goldbräu Premium" Lager, Austria 16oz Cans
Review Date: 1-18-2013
I wonder how much of the Stiegl that we buy for our stock at K&L is sold to the staff. If I were to guess, I would say over 50%. These tall boys are perfect after a long day, and do an exceptional job of washing away the tannin after tasting to many overblown red wines. The style is Germanic; clean, lively, refreshing and the execution precise. If you love a good lager, and like having 4 oz. left after 12 have been enjoyed, this is the beer for you!
Price: $2.19 Add To Cart BC 0

Franck Bonville Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 1-16-2013
From my top 10 Champagnes of 2012: Cinnamon and I drank this at home the night before flying down to Los Angeles for the annual Champagne tent events. This was our last chance to enjoy Champagne like regular citizens before the madness of the big tastings, and we took advantage of it! Cinnamon picked up sushi to go from our favorite spot, Akasaka in Menlo Park and we enjoyed the pairing immensely. The extra brut from Bonville is always the same wine as the concurrent vintage, but not declared as such. It is all Avize Chardonnay and although the current batch had over four years on the lees, it is still very austere on its own. With sushi it is magic. The sweetening effect the hamachi had on this bottle was striking, and its flexibility with the spicy and pickled flavors from the embarrassing rolls that I like to order amazed me. The unbelievably clean, precise chalkiness of this wine put the Avize terroir center stage!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne
Review Date: 1-16-2013
From my top 10 Champagnes of 2012: My jaw almost dropped when I learned the story of the new Charles Heidsieck from Cecile Bonnefond, the CEO of both Charles and Piper. Instead of the normal package change / price increase rationalized by currency fluctuation or “increased international demand” this wine had been improved at great cost to the producer before the price went up! The new package contains a selection of half the vineyard sites of the old one, and older reserve wines. The result is non-vintage Champagne that is better than most big house vintage wines and a stronger value now at $49.99 than the old was at $34.99. When we drank this with Jim Pollock at the K&L party at my house it was one of the stars of the night, and reflecting back, of the whole year! This Champagne has depth, combining maturity and freshness, nutty intrigue and minerality!

Michel Loriot "Theodorine" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 1-16-2013
I love drinking Champagne on Tuesdays! I had prepared a merguez tagine with plenty of pimenton ahumado and large pearl cous-cous for dinner, and started to scratch my head over what to pair with it. It was going to be too spicy for anything tannic, yet the lamb in the sausage called out for some red wine flavors... Rose! Rose was the answer. But it is the middle of winter, and all of the still rose is sold! Rose Champagne! Rose Champagne is the answer! The Michel Loriot Rose was perfect, with lots of red wine richness from the 20% Pinot in the blend, but also great snap from the Loriot policy of no malolactic. The very ripe strawberry fruit in this wine was brought into perfect balance by the powerful finish. Try it out the next time you whip up something spicy!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Domaine du Manoir de Montreuil Calvados Pay d'Auge 750ml
Review Date: 1-15-2013
This very light colored Calvados is the key ingredient in making my new favorite winter cocktail, the Bentley. Charles Neal published the recipe in his excellent book Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy which is where I first read about it, but apparently this cocktail was in the original Savoy Cocktail Book. I have experimented with a number of different Calvados bottlings and red vermouths, but settled on the Montreuil and the Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry as my favorites. Here is the recipe: pour 1 & 1/2 ounces of Calvados and 1 & 1/2 ounces of red vermouth in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add one dash of Angostura Bitters and stir thoroughly with a cocktail spoon. Strain into a martini glass. Try to drink it slowly!
Price: $42.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Camut Aperitif Normand Pommeau 750ml
Review Date: 1-15-2013
Warning! This fabulous aperitif tastes a little too good, and much like the Ramos Pinto white Port, goes down far too easily. The Camut Pommeau has all of the virtues taste of great apple juice, the warmth of apple pie and the crispness of an apple fresh from the tree. It is great to drink chilled in a white wine glass- the only thing you need to do is pour. Be careful not to get carried away!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

LeMorton Reserve 6 year old Calvados Domfrontais 750ml
Review Date: 1-15-2013
The Lemorton is a great bottle of Calvados and being from the Domfrontais has a lot of pears in it. It is round and rich, with lots of extroverted fruit flavor. It still finishes nice and dry and is far to easy to drink. I have been enjoying a snifter of this by the fire as a digestive in the evening and it is a great nightcap. Recently, Cinnamon took a flask of this mushroom foraging with her and she found it invigorating. I hope you'll try it out!
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Lazzaroni Amaro 750ml
Review Date: 10-3-2012
I love this Amaro, and my favorite use for it is in Black Manhattan's- a drink that I was first introduced to in (of all places!) Hollywood. I stir two parts dry rye Whiskey, usually the Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond, with one part Lazzaroni Amaro in a cocktail shaker with a dash or two of Scrappy's chocolate bitters. I serve it up in a Martini glass as a digestif. If you substitute Bourbon in this drink please select a drier style, as this Amaro has a good deal of sweetness of its own!
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siècle" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 9-12-2012
The Grand Siecle has long been my favorite tete de cuvee, but for many years now it has been out of reach. Since 2008, just a trickle has made it to the USA, and it was a fantastically expensive trickle. We managed to secure some at a very fair price and I can't say enough about what a great wine this is. Most big houses talk a big game about the "Blenders Art" and the synergy of Grand Cru terroirs when combined not just with balancing sites, but also across time. This is the embodiment of synergistic blending and monk’s patience. Nearly every Grand Cru in Champagne is represented; the wine is from three different vintages and aged over 10 years on the lees. The current batch is an astounding 80% reserve wines- something unique in the world of Champagne. If you are looking for effortless class and depth you will never tire of, look no further.
Drink from 2012 to 2022

Pierre Ferrand 1840 Formula 90 proof Cognac 750ml
Review Date: 9-11-2012
This Ferrand is a great ingredient, and works far better than much more expensive (and far more subtle) Cognacs in cocktails. The 1840 Formula is made in the three star style from the 19th century, and is a full 5% higher in alcohol than standard Cognac. It is also oilier and weightier with lots of flavor- it won’t get lost in a mixed drink. Here is a great use for it: The French 75- 2 parts Ferrand 1840 Formula 90 proof Cognac, 1 Part Fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 Part simple syrup, 2 parts Champagne (Blanc de Blancs if you have one open), Lots of fresh ice, Lemon rind for garnish. We use an ounce per part for ours- and that makes a pretty big aperitif. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake thoroughly and pour into a rocks glass filled with more fresh ice. Top with Champagne, and stir if you like (I do!) finally garnishing with lemon rind.
Price: $37.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin 750ml
Review Date: 8-21-2012
A great bottle of gin is a luxury that we all deserve to be treated to. This Royal dock has just the right amount of assertive juniper and balanced botanicals to make an excellent after-work gin and tonic, and at navy strength, you do not have to use as much as you would a normal gin. As I learned from Hayman's (who is the distiller) excellent website "This Navy Strength Gin at 57% vol was the strength required to enable gunpowder to still light if Gin was spilt on it." Here at K&L we recommend keeping the gin separate from the munitions!
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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More Favorites

Gary Westby is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Gary Westby, click here to join Gary Westby's Personal Sommelier Service.
2013 Quarter Acre Sauvignon Blanc Hawke's Bay ($16.99)

2011 Moulin de la Gardette "Tradition" Gigondas ($24.99)

Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($39.99)

2013 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre ($19.99)

2008 Ariston Aspasie Brut Champagne ($39.99)

Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne ($39.99)

2013 Eric Cottat Sancerre ($18.99)

2012 Ellero "Pisa Terrace" Pinot Noir Central Otago ($29.99)

2012 Elephant Hill Pinot Noir Central Otago ($24.99)

2014 Cognizant Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($14.99)

2013 Château Font-Mars Picpoul de Pinet ($11.99)

2012 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône ($11.99)

2013 Château de Montfaucon "Comtesse Madeleine" Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($16.99)

2013 Chante Cigale Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ($29.99)

2012 Champy Bourgogne Chardonnay "Signature" ($19.99)

2012 Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($29.99)

2013 Cakebread Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($25.99)

2007 Bodegas Puelles Rioja Reserva ($19.99)

1999 Bodegas Puelles Gran Reserva Rioja ($19.99)

2013 Bodegas Puelles Blanco Rioja ($9.99)

2012 Bodega Mendel "Estate" Malbec Mendoza ($24.99)

2013 Blason Friulano Isonzo ($9.99)

2012 Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($22.99)

2012 Baccinetti "La Saporoia" Rosso di Montalcino ($14.99)

2009 Baccinetti "La Saporoia" Brunello di Montalcino ($29.99)

2001 Arnauld, Haut-Médoc ($18.99)

2013 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99)

2012 Abtei Muri Sudtirol "Weiss" (Super Bianco) ($29.99)

2013 Abbaye Saint Hilaire Coteaux Varois en Provence Rosé ($13.99)