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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Sandeman "Royal Corregidor" VOS Oloroso Jerez (500ml)
Review Date: 2-22-2013
I had this last night with an English cheese course at home of Stilton, Cheddar and Cotswald and narrowly escaped drinking the whole bottle with Cinnamon. Old Sherry is hands down the finest value in all of fine wine and this is a great example. The youngest wine in this blend it at least 20 years old and the oldest goes back to the foundation of the solera in 1894. This great amount of time in wood, and the added complexity of blending nearly 100 harvests has created a wine of outstanding depth. The Royal Corregidor is full of the rancio and walnut flavors that make me flip for old Oloroso, and has just enough sweetness from Pedro Ximmenez to make it an ideal night cap. Take advantage of the deal!
Top Value!

Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 2-20-2013
David Driscoll treated us to three flights of blind whisky in our last staff tasting. This was my favorite of the under $50 flight, and I was surprised to see it was the Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve that I had liked the best of the big producers. Nothing beats putting a brown bag over some bottles to make one more objective! The whisky had a light gold color, and a bright nose of lively malt and sweet vanilla. On the palate it was delicate, well balanced and super easy to drink. Don't count this out without trying it!
Top Value!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart WE 91 BC 0

2002 Lanson "Gold Label" Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-19-2013
This is serious vintage Champagne from one of historic houses in Reims. Lanson never allows their wines to go through malolactic fermentation, and this exceptionally young and fresh wine shows what a good call that can be when you have the patience to cellar your Champagne. The nose is full of high quality candied cherry from the top notch Pinot Noir that makes up half the blend and palate is full of Meyer lemon zing from the top notch Chardonnay that makes up the other. The finish is very long and chalky- I can't recommend this highly enough!
Drink from 2013 to 2022

2009 Gigault "Cuvée Viva" Premières, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
Review Date: 2-19-2013
It is a rare treat to have the owner of a Chateau in Bordeaux pouring his wines for you in Redwood City, and we enjoyed every minute of our time with Mr. Christophe Rebaul at last Saturdays tasting and every sip of his 2009 Gigault "Cuvée Viva" Premières Côtes de Blaye. This cheerful, easy to drink blend of 99% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon was plump and full of cinnamon and carob flavors. Rich, sweet fruited wines like this are fantastic to drink now and blow the notion of all Bordeaux being expensive out of the water.

2009 de Birot, Côtes de Bordeaux
Review Date: 2-19-2013
Most collectors will clamor for the top wines in this vintage, but the real excitement for me with a vintage like 2009 comes from the everyday priced wines like this. Composed of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, this dark wine has lots of herbal intrigue on the nose and excellent, grain free texture. If you are looking for good, dry red for the table that won’t knock you out with too much alcohol, try out the Birot!
Drink from 2013 to 2019
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 l'Avocat Blanc, Graves
Review Date: 2-19-2013
This wine is composed of 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Sauvignon Gris. The l'Avocat has one of the most unique noses that I have encountered tasting white Bordeaux. The racy Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine a smoky aroma that reminded me of Islay peat! On the palate this wine is very bright and light, and would make a great aperitif or partner for goat cheese crostini.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Jever Pils, Germany 12oz
Review Date: 2-16-2013
I love this refreshing, light, bracing brew after a long day of tasting oversized red wines! At 4.8% it is gentle on the system, and the balance is such that one could never tire of it. Jever Pils is from the most northern part of Germany, very near the Dutch border. It is made with Friesian spring water and Germany's noble Hallertau hops and as with any beer from this great country, it follows the beer purity laws of Biergesetz, the modern incarnation of Reinheitsgebot. That means no funny ingredients, and only barley and yeast to go with the hops and water mentioned above!
Top Value!
Price: $1.66 Add To Cart BC 0

Fever Tree Tonic Water (6.8oz 4-pk)
Review Date: 2-16-2013
This tonic is expensive, but it is worth it if you love your gin. I find it to be less sweet and have a high quality quinine flavor than the other tonics available. I have had it with Anchor Junipero, Hendrick's, Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin, Faultline, St. George Terroir Mt. Tam Gin and many others, but my favorite with the Fever Tree is the Cadenhead's Old Raj Gin. This combination, with a nice slice of lime and a couple of giant ice cubes is the most elegant gin and tonic that I have ever had!
Price: $5.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne (375ml)
Review Date: 2-15-2013
What indulgence is more romantic than a half bottle of Krug? I can't think of one. This little bottle is assembled from a generation of harvests and has the complexity of great old Champagne while keeping the freshness of a current release. It is the perfect size to enjoy with someone special before (or after!) a nice meal! My favorite memory with a half bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee was with Cinnamon on the train to dinner in the city. Even the conductor was jealous!

1989 Krug "Collection" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-15-2013
I was very lucky to get to drink this late disgorged Krug with Krug CEO Margareth Henriquez at Quattro restaurant in the Four Seasons. It was the last wine of the night and we ended things on a very high note with another cheese course, this one cleverly disguised as a dessert. Chef Fossati created a Brulee by torching honey on top of some very creamy, savory Explorateur cheese served next to some unsweetened orange blossom gelato with white truffles shaved on top of it. I remembered this wine from when it first was released- ahead of the 1988, and it is evolving slowly in this freshly disgorged format. This warm harvest, already 23 years old is showing the vinous bass notes that make well aged Krug famous. It still has plenty of chalk and zip, and showed even more truffle than the older “Grand Cuvee” did. The pairing was delightful, bringing out the ripe, sweet fruit of the 1989 harvest.

Krug Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 2-15-2013
Chef Fossati of Quattro Restaurant at the Four Seasons was daring and paired the Krug Brut Rosé Champagne with lamb loin from Elysian Fields at the Krug dinner I attended with Krug CEO Margareth Henriquez. This Champagne needed food (and rich food!) in order to show well and was very different from the first Krug rose that I tasted more than a decade ago. My first visit to the maison in winter of 2001 was also my first experience with Krug rose, and its impression has haunted me ever since. The wine I drank in 2001 was so vanishingly subtle, so easy to drink, that its greatness did not occur to me until days later. I still think about that bottle. Margareth explained that this batch (311030) used Ay Rouge for its color and rose flavor, but that often times they use Bouzy Rouge instead. This batch was disgorged in fall of 2011 and was aged for a little over five years on the lees, so it must have been based on 2005. It had fresh baked bread and Nuits-St.-George like savor on the nose, and powerhouse black cherry fruit backed with firm acidity on the palate. I much preferred it with the lamb than on its own. This was large-scale wine that Margareth said she loved to cellar.
Drink from 2013 to 2023

2000 Krug Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-15-2013
I enjoyed this great vintage Champagne with a very traditional Champagne pairing: pigeon! One of the best local dishes of the Champagne region is pigeon en croute. The rare Paine Farm squab at Quattro restaurant was perfect with this refined powerhouse of a wine. Although the 2000 vintage returned to a Pinot Noir dominated blend, the relative youth of the wine and the fresh character of the vintage brought the Chardonnay to the front. This was the favorite vintage of the group of diners that I enjoyed it with, with electric acidity and chalky length. There is power in this bottle, but it does not have to show it off. The 2000 will evolve for a generation in the cellar, and I can’t wait to revisit it in 2030. A rich game bird needs a lively wine, and why not 2000 Krug!
Drink from 2013 to 2050

2000 Krug "Clos du Mesnil" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 2-15-2013
The iconic all-Chardonnay Clos du Mesnil comes from a four and a half acre walled vineyard in the super-chalky grand cru village of Mesnil. It was known as the Clos Tarin, owned by the Tarin sisters. It had always been famous for its quality, but now as a single vineyard wine by one of Champagne’s most quality obsessed houses, it has become one of the most desirable bottles in the whole appellation. I drank this with Margareth Henriquez, Krug's CEO at Quattro restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel, and it was paired with the appetizers. The lobster crudo brought out the white fruit of the chardonnay, while the duck and Taleggio poppers showed off the razor cut of this no-malolactic Mesnil masterpiece. The best pairing of all was with the pancetta wrapped bay scallops, giving me a glimpse of the richness this wine has in store for the patient. I can count the number of times I have had Clos du Mesnil on one hand, and feel lucky to be able to say that! This pure Chardonnay expression, from a house whose other wines are dominated by black fruit always shows plenty of Krug style, while also revealing the chalky minerality of one of the greatest sites on the planet.
Drink from 2013 to 2050

Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-15-2013
I was lucky enough to drink this last with Krug's CEO, Margareth Henriquez. Margareth explained the new codes on the backs of the bottles, that allow the Champagne lover to learn the disgorgement date, year of the base harvest of the wine as well as the number of vintages blended in and the oldest of them. She was far too modest about this new feature, as it reverses the secretiveness for which Krug has long been known. Now, thanks to her influence, Krug is one of the most transparent houses. The bottle that we had was from batch 311032, based on 2004, and composed of 121 different wines from 12 different vintages going all the way back to 1990. It was disgorged in the fall of 2011. All of this can be learned by going to www.krug.com and entering the code. Our bottle was Krug at its toasty, extroverted best, with plenty of buttery brioche and mid-palate weight. It also had typical 2004 zing and acidity, and showed attractive aspects of both youth and maturity.
Drink from 2013 to 2023

Hennessy Paradis Cognac 750ml
Review Date: 2-14-2013
I count myself very lucky to have had a chance to taste this monument of Cognac on a number of occasions, and it has never failed to impress. The last time I tasted it we had it right next to the unbelievably expensive (as if $800 wasn't expensive!!!) Richard Hennessy- and I preferred the Paradis. Made with Cognac's dating all the way back to 1800's, this unbelievable brandy balanced pure grapey fruit with Amontillado like rancio effortlessly. There is no substitute for time and the patience of Hennessy delivers a product of both incredible pleasure and complexity.
Price: $849.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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