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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Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 5-7-2010
I almost find it embarrassing to drink this 3000 bottle production single vineyard Champagne as often as I do... But I get over it every time Cinnamon and I open a bottle. Like a great white Burgundy it has terroir, and the flavors are inimitably cotes de blancs Champagne. It has the complexity and the detail for the fussy wine person in me, but it is also shockingly easy to drink. The Belles Voyes always grows in my memory after having it. One of the most memorable bottles I drank of it was with a bib on, eating fresh king crab legs, but it is just as appropriate for the aperitif. Take advantage of our unfairly large allocation of this tiny production Champagne and treat yourself to a bottle!
Top Value!

Lustau Almacenista Oloroso "Pata de Gallina" (500ml)
Review Date: 5-7-2010
A bottle of Pata De Gallina and a plate of Cotswold, cheddar and stilton lead me into predation every time. I pour a big glass, put the bottle back in the cellar and close the door; otherwise I will be powerless against its charms and pour another. Then I go back to the cellar... It is the tang and zip of this bone dry wine that make it so mooreish, while the scale, richness and complexity make it beguiling. What a wine!

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries (400g)
Review Date: 5-7-2010
When I bought these for myself, I joked with my colleagues here at K&L that I must either be a fool or a gourmet... $16 Cherries! That is crazy! Well, I have discovered that like white truffle oil and very old condimento balsamico, the Luxardo cherries are worth it. First of all, they are very small, but have more cherry flavor individually than a whole fistful of the normal "red" maraschinos. Just one or two and a smidgen of the syrup in the bottle make a big impression on a cocktail. The 360 gram jar lasts a long time, even if you dip into it as often as Cinnamon and I do. My favorite use for them is to simply pop a couple into a bourbon on the rocks... Yum!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1963 Taylor Vintage Port
Review Date: 4-15-2010
A lot of famous wines from famous vintages let me down. This 1963 Taylor is not one of them. This spectacularly aromatic, effortless port brightened up a Thursday here at K&L with its vinous perfection. The only thing that I can imagine improving this wine would be a little time to settle, and a wheel of stilton.
Drink from 2010 to 2063

Domaine Boingnères Armagnac Reserve Speciale
Review Date: 2-3-2010
When is a non-vintage Armagnac worth the better part of $100? When it is this good... I was blown away by this, and I am desperate to buy a bottle for myself as soon as it returns to stock. This has it all; the rancio and suaveness of well aged brandy, the vinous savor and quiet hiss of fire that reminds one this is not Cognac and finally a peacock’s tail finish that swells long after you have set down your glass. This might not have the flash on the sideboard that a vintage of similar price has, but there is much more in the bottle than any other that we carry!
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Bollinger Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 11-16-2009
The Mark Hopkins was the venue for the inaugural San Francisco stop of the Tour de Champagne this past October, and this fantastic Champagne was my favorite discovery at the event. This spectacular bottle delivers the vinous power that one would expect from Bollinger, but with elegant panache. It is one of the best rosés available at any price.

Four Roses Yellow Label Kentucky Bourbon 750ml
Review Date: 9-9-2009
Bourbon & Rye are the USA's great contribution to the world of spirits, and the Four Roses has been an ambassador bottle for the category internationally for many years. This delicious Bourbon makes a fine Manhattan, as recommended above, but it also makes a great Whiskey Sour, my favorite cold brown liquor cocktail. At home we use equal parts Meyer lemon from our dwarf tree and Bourbon, with one teaspoon of superfine sugar per shot of whiskey, mixing it all thoroughly before pouring over ice in a rocks glass. We then garnish with a slice of Meyer lemon and a maraschino cherry. This old-fashioned drink is a classic for a reason; it is very refreshing and synergistic. I hope you will try it!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart WE 94 BC 0

North Shore Gin No. 6
Review Date: 8-25-2009
This top-notch gin made was a fabulous partner to tonic last night. With a strong hint of rosemary and winter spice, I found it to be incredibly refreshing and all to easy too drink. It took a lot of self discipline to only have one! This is a must in the cabinet of any gin lover.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 8-18-2009
Cinnamon and I paired this with some pork paté from the fatted calf in Napa before diving into some pork chops last night, and I was left wanting for nothing. This is a wine of depth, finesse and intrigue and yet is about as easy as it gets to drink without engaging the grey matter at all.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Brouwerij De Ranke "XX Bitter" Belgian IPA 750ml
Review Date: 8-12-2009
This extraordinarily drinkable Belgian IPA is from Wevelgem in West Flanders - and I have been drinking it to celebrate the spring classics in Flanders - particularly the Ghent-Wevelgem bike race. It has a straw/golden color and a bubble train that would make tête de cuvée Champagne blush. The picture is completed by a gorgeous head of Belgian lace that I could imagine floating a quarter on top of. Unlike the new world style of IPA, this robustly hoppy and refreshing ale has balance. Get some before I drink them all!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart BC 0

North Shore Gin No. 11
Review Date: 7-30-2009
Don't hesitate when you see this gin in stock, it is very small production and quite sought after. The last batch all sold before touching the shelf! The number 11 has a relaxed exoticism that reminds me of Hendricks, with a dry refreshing streak that only the Junipero can equal. The balance is fabulous, and combined with a lime from our dwarf tree, a glass full of ice and a splash of tonic, I was in after-work-cocktail heaven.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 5-2-2009
I always have to order extra of these magnums - Clyde & Trey always gobble up about half of what we get! All Champagne has an advantage in magnum, seeing more surface area for lees contact and half the amount of air exposure. Already exceptional out of 750, the Bonville Selection picks up both richness and zip in the larger format bottle - making it the "smallest" big bottle that we have. It ends up empty far too soon!

Ardbeg Uigeadail Traditional Strength Islay Single Malt Whisky
Review Date: 5-1-2009
I love Ardbeg, and the Uigeadail is one of the most special expressions that I have had from this great Islay distillery. No other distillery makes a malt quite as peaty as Ardbeg, and this one has an additional twist: sherry wood aging. The sherry wood gives another dimension of richness and weight to this typically light and piercing single malt. I have a bottle at home, and I love it for a cold night by the fire - but Alex Brisoux (the Redwood City store manager) swears by it with oysters! That is a combination that is hard for me to imagine, but I don't doubt a professional like Alex on a topic as serious as pairings!
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart WA 95 BC 0

Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 4-28-2009
Cinnamon and I shipped this to Costanoa, a resort by the beach (better than carrying it on our bicycle!) and enjoyed it alfresco after a day in the saddle. We carried Riedel "O" stemless glasses in our jersey pockets (don't try this at home kids!) because we forgot to ship them... We were glad we did. This wine has so much complexity and subtlety it would have been a shame to drink it out of substandard glassware. The Grand Cuvee is very powerful Pinot-based stuff, with a hint of smoke on the nose, a very supple texture and a bone dry, persistent finish. A great reward after a long ride!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Coniston Brewing Company "Bluebird Bitter" England 500ml
Review Date: 4-17-2009
This hoppy bitter deserves the accolades it has received; which include the Campaign for Real Ale's "Ale of the Year" in 2008. Bright, refreshing bitterness, balanced by high quality but extraordinarily restrained maltiness and very low alcohol make this a true session beer - perfect for occasions when having a few more than one. This will be in my cellar (they suggest 58 degree serving temperature) from now on!
Price: $6.49 Add To Cart BC 0

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More Favorites

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