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 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

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

1991 Lopez de Heredia "Viña Tondonia" Blanco Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-6-2012
This honeyed, glorious bottle of dry white wine amazed Cinnamon and I with its depth and intrigue. We drank it with el Salchichero pork rillettes from the Santa Cruz farmers market as an appetizer and the combo was excellent. The rillettes had a strong citrus element, and it mirrored the wine perfectly. If you are looking for a great treat, and love the magic that only age can bring to a wine, look no further!

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

Gosset "Excellence" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-28-2012
Very few famous negociants are making Champagne of this quality- this is poised, balanced Champagne that has soul as well as polish. The Gosset Excellence is a great way to welcome friends to a dinner party, but also does very well with food and just one other special person!

2000 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 9-13-2011
One thing we hear all the time at K&L is that Bordeaux has become too expensive. While it is true that the 30 or so top names have taken their prices to the moon, it is unfair to say that the whole regions prices are too high. This 11 year old bottle from one of the great modern vintages is a fine example of extraordinary value in Bordeaux. It is polished, poised and very complete with loads of black fruit power, fine tannins and mineraly grip. It could be enjoyed tonight with a thick cut New York strip steak or laid down for another 10 years.
Top Value! Drink from 2011 to 2021
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 6-4-2010
It is embarrassing to have hogged so much of this tiny production beauty for myself, but an embarrassment that I am willing to live with. Out of 750ml, this Champagne is one of our best. Out of magnum, it is transcendent. Take it away from me- please!

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!

Knob Creek Bourbon 750ml
Review Date: 5-7-2010
What a deal! This excellent 9 year old Bourbon is an extra aged selection from the Jim Beam distillery. The Knob Creek is a whiskey of authority, and has the richness one would expect of an extra aged bourbon. It is not at all heavy however, and I love to drink it on the rocks with a couple Luxardo Maraschino cherries now that the weather is getting warmer. It is also very good neat, or for that matter, in a sour. I have to guess that it is the scale of production at Beam that allows them to sell it for such a fair price!

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