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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Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 8-15-2014
This rich, layered whisky shows just how good young craft malt can be. I am not a believer in paying a high price for young stuff just because it comes from a small hands-on distillery. It has to be in the bottle, and the Cut Spike has the stuffing to justify the price. It is rich and textural without being over the top, and has layers of complexity that caught me by surprise. If you are interested in seeing how good a new distiller can be, check it out!
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2006 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-14-2014
The Louis Roederer Cristal is a famous Champagne, and deserves to be an even more famous wine. This all estate grown Champagne comes from fifty hectares of the chalkiest, oldest vine sites on Roederer's 240 hectare estate. They farm these vineyards especially for Cristal, restricting the yields, and for many of the plots farming organically. This 2006 reminds me very much of the 2002 when it was this age; creamy and very mineral at once. It manages to have a full body and retain an extraordinary chalky freshness--I think this will be one of the greats.
Drink from 2014 to 2056

2008 Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-14-2014
This entirely estate grown Champagne comes from Avize, Mesnil and Cramant and is harvested riper than most. It sees about 25% wood fermentation, and is made at a lower pressure, about 4 atmospheres, than most Champagne. This is the smallest production wine from Champagne Louis Roederer, and the 2008 is very special, with extraordinary, voluminous white flower and baguette aromas. The wine has a perfect texture and bead, and the finish that one would expect from one of the best and highest acid vintages in a generation. It is long, serious stuff!
Drink from 2014 to 2048
Price: $74.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2004 Veuve Clicquot "La Grande Dame-Silhouette Box" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-14-2014
This is exceptional stuff, made entirely from Grand Cru vineyards, and from a vintage that we have not seen the likes of since 1988, or after 2004. It is composed of 61% Pinot Noir from Ay, Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay and Bouzy and 39% Chardonnay from Avize, Oger and Mesnil. It has a lovely hazelnut nose, with high quality croissant toast, and a clean, long, crisp impression on the palate. This will be great for a special occasion tonight, or for many, many years to come.
Drink from 2014 to 2029

2011 Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 7-29-2014
This is a taste of the real thing. The Domaine Eden is one of the most perfectly balanced Chardonnays that we carry. It has excellent quality lime-like fruit, nice medium-to-light weight and a long finish. If you are looking for well-balanced wine, you have found it!
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2005 Château de Montfaucon "Baron Louis" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 7-23-2014
I love it when a producer does the aging for me! This 2005 Baron Louis from Chateau De Montfaucon has a lovely, developed bouquet of cool black fruit and seamless texture that only comes with the passage of time. The wine still has plenty of size and life, and would be great with your next tri-tip grill up!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart WS 90 BC 0

2013 Domaine Pas de l'Escalette "Les Petits Pas" Languedoc
Review Date: 7-22-2014
It seems like forever since the last time I tasted a southern French red like this! The Pas De L'Escalette Les Petits Pas has the funky, old school, spicy, earthy fruit that I remember in Chateuneuf of days gone by. Usually I expect heat and jam from Languedoc wines, but this dry table wine is free from those distractions. It will make a great partner for a leg of lamb!
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Gosset Blanc des Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 7-3-2014
The dry focus of this Gosset made it a perfect partner for the sushi that I ordered from my friends at Akasaka in Menlo Park. The wine is very light and elegant, but even with rich salmon nigiri has plenty of flavor... It is a classy beverage, and I found it to be understated, subtle, and intriguing. I love Champagne that is hard to describe but easy to drink, and the Gosset Blanc des Blancs is a great example of wine that is easier to enjoy than to describe. The texture and bead are perfection, with plenty of tiny streamers to delight. I loved the subtle apricot aroma and flavor that contrasted the baguette-like toast in this wine, but the best feature was the finish--long, detailed and chalky. If you have a special occasion coming, this is a treat that you will love. It is a great bottle of Champagne.

2006 Baron Fuente "Grand Millésimé" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 7-2-2014
Tasting this wine for the first time in Epernay with Baron Fuente's Eric de Brissis was a great experience. I loved the wine for its poised creaminess, lovely nutty flavors and clean, long finish. This is a very elegant, subtle bottle of wine that will impress the most jaded of palates. In my notebook from that day, I wrote "tastes expensive"... Then he showed me the price. Deals like this don't come every day, and I would suggest that you join me in buying a case, or maybe two!
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2021
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart WS 91 BC 0

2013 Bodkin "The Victor's Spoils - Sandy Bend Vineyard" Lake County Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 6-25-2014
Wow - Bodkin canceled amateur hour with this excellent bottling! Don't let the reasonable price fool you, the Sandy Bench Vineyard Lake County Sauvignon Blanc is as focused, high-toned and precise as they come. This would make a great ringer in a tasting of Sancerre, and has minerality and length that one rarely finds in stateside SBs. If you like your white wine bright, don't miss this one!
Top Value!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart WE 91 BC 0

1995 Moët & Chandon "Grand Vintage" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 5-15-2014
Cinnamon and I enjoyed this wine with Plaza de Caviar’s quite fine paddlefish roe to start, and the nutty complexity of the Champagne worked in tandem with the nutty complexity of the eggs. This Moet has some very nice toasty, yeasty elements to it, but also has some ripe pear fruit and plenty of virile acidity to cut the richness of the Crème fraîche. My ex-sommelier wife, who has always been a better taster than me, called the wine “fluffy” which was a perfect description. This Champagne is in perfect balance, and doesn’t try too hard... It comes off as effortless and light in spite of the considerable complexity that is there if you search for it. After the paddlefish, we brought the rest of the bottle to the dinner table to enjoy with some simple vegetable ravioli tossed in garlic, white truffle butter and topped with some old Parmesan. While the 1995 Moet works great as an aperitif, the truffle and Parmesan elements brought out the savory depth of the wine, making for a real special occasion. As with all great wine, this was a “small” bottle, and was gone before we were ready to stop drinking it. While it is not cheap, I think that this 1995 Moet is an exceptional value. Great older wine with perfect provenance is not something that you get to drink every day.
Price: Hidden View Price WE 94 BC 0

2006 Michel Loriot "Inspiration de Saison" Extra Brut Champagne
Review Date: 5-3-2014
The 2006 vintage in Champagne was a warm one, and the wines have a sunny, round personality that matches the unseasonably warm weather here in California. While this vintage is labeled as an extra brut and only dosed at six grams of sugar per liter, it does not come off as austere. To the contrary, the ripeness of this Champagne shows some high quality braeburn apple fruit as well as a nice nutty quality from the time on the lees. The crisp back end is perfect for decadent fried chicken, and left me feeling refreshed and ready for more.
Drink from 2014 to 2026
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

2004 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne
Review Date: 3-21-2014
Cinnamon and I drank this with some seared Ahi tuna and roasted vegtables and we were blown away by the quality. When we sat down, the first thing I noticed about the Champagne was how good it looked in the glass. The wine has a light gold color and a fine streamer of compact bubbles that form quite a nice halo on the top of the glass. Aromatically the 2004 delivered on the promise of top vintage Champagne with a complex array of dried fruit, pie crust and walnut on the nose. In the mouth it is concentrated and authoritative without being heavy, and has the kind of texture that rarely comes for under $100. The finish showed off the best features of the 2004 vintage, with chalky focus and a finish that I can almost still taste the next day. The Pierre Paillard went very well with the Tuna, with the rare Ahi bringing out the deep cherry fruit of the Pinot Noir and the tangy soy almost mirroring the chalk on the finish. I wish that Quentin and Antoine Paillard had been over to check it out, as the combination was far from a traditional French pairing! As usual with a great bottle of Champagne, Cinnamon and I thought it disappeared to quickly… I am looking forward to the magnums being released next year!
Drink from 2014 to 2034
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart ST 91 BC 0

Henriot "Souverain" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 1-30-2014
This is one of the last great deals in grand marque Champagne! The house of Henriot is one of the last of the big name negociants to stay independent, and that independence has allowed them to focus on quality in the bottle. This Champagne is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from 25 crus within the region, many from their own 87 acre estate. The Souverain has a lovely toasty quality that is nicely balanced by a refreshing zing. It is a perfect aperitif!

Lost Spirits Distillery 68% California Navy Style Rum 750ml
Review Date: 1-29-2014
Today we were treated to our rum ration here at K&L courtesy of Lost Spirits, and I was very impressed. Not only will this 136-proof Navy strength not stop your gunpowder from igniting if you spill some on it, it will also warm your heart without burning your mouth. This high-test rum is very well integrated and has some nice rancio notes from the sherry treated casks as well as lovely round sweetness from the authentic molasses. Another round for the crew please!!!
Price: $44.99 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.
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2012 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône ($11.99)

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

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2012 Champy Bourgogne Chardonnay "Signature" ($19.99)

2012 Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($29.99)

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2001 Arnauld, Haut-Médoc ($18.99)

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