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

2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 1-25-2013
This wine makes a statement for Meunier with its authoritative, clean mineral driven flavor profile. This is a misunderstood variety, and makes wines that are every bit as diverse, interesting and noble as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Champagne. The Michel Loriot Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes shows that with the right selection (this vineyard is a massal planted in 1943), the right site and the right producer Meunier is not simple, fruity and meant to just be drunk young. This is one of the best single vineyard expressions available from Champagne, and should not be missed.
Drink from 2013 to 2026
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart ST 92 BC 0

Ariston Aspasie "Brut Prestige" Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 1-18-2013
This is your last chance for the old vines- they were destroyed in hail in 2003.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart 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

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!

2005 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-6-2012
Cristal is an all estate Champagne, from 50 hectares of vines: the best, oldest and chalkiest parts of Roederer's vineyards. They farm these plots, which are roughly 1/3 from the Cotes de Blancs, 1/3 from the north facing side of the Mountain de Reims and 1/3 from Ay, differently from the rest of the estate, intentionally working the land for lower yields and higher quality. This approach has yielded a great 2005, and one that can be enjoyed much sooner than the 2004 that was being sold last year. This is a pure, chalky and precise wine and best enjoyed by a couple over dinner. Too bad so much will be wasted in clubs!
Drink from 2012 to 2025

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

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