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Staff Favorites - 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!
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2013 Sittella Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 8-19-2014
This clean, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon blend from Margaret River in Western Australia offers incredible value. The Sittella is very poised, light bodied exceptionally long finishing. I loved the subtle honeyed notes and poised texture and can't wait to server it with a lobster roll or just by itself!
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
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
1994 Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien
Review Date: 8-4-2014
Cinnamon and I enjoyed this claret last night with a ribeye steak and potatoes. Cinnamon decided to be avant-garde on this occasion, and instead of peas or green beans served pan seared padron peppers. We put a touch of truffle salt on the steaks after cooking them, and the meal turned out very nicely. How did the Gruaud work? It was predictably great with the food. This 1994 has the poise and power of a great vintage at 20 years old, and seems to just be hitting its stride. It has a huge amount of pure, dark cassis fruit, integrated but very present tannins, and lots of electricity on the long, mineral laden finish. It took discipline for me not to hog the bottle, but it was too good not to share fairly with Cinnamon!
Drink from 2014 to 2034
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!
2012 Arterberry Maresh "Maresh Vineyard" Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 7-29-2014
The Maresh Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir from Arterberry Maresh is the purest example of Oregon Pinot Noir that we have at K&L. It has the perfect dark cherry fruit on the nose and silky texture that I associate with the best of this estate's wines. If you are curious to see how good these wines can get, check this bottle out!
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!
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!
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
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!
Lehmann "Jamesse Reference" Grand Champagne glass (ship as 6pk *in styrofoam only)
Review Date: 5-20-2014
I first tasted Champagne out of these glasses at the luxurious Relais and Chateau "Les Crayeres" in Reims, and immediately dreamed of carrying them at K&L. A few years later, the cellar master at Ruinart, Frederic Panaiotis brought Cinnamon and I pair as a gift, and we have been using them for special bottles ever since. This year, Scott and I had a chance to visit Gerhard Lehmann, the glassware manufacturer in Reims who produced them, and now they are finally here. I was shocked to find what a value price these great glasses sell for, since I believe that they are some of the very, very best in the world for the enjoyment of Champagne. Try them out, I promise that you will pick up new complexity in old favorites!
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.
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
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