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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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1979 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 12-26-2012
Greatness is a word that gets thrown around far too often in the single malt (and wine for the matter!) world. In order for a whisky to be truly great, it needs to have balance, individuality and trickiest of all maturity. The 1979 Single Barrel Glenfarclas is one of the most finely balanced drinks to pass my lips this year, with its faint hint of sherry and gentle (although full cask) power. This cask is a real individual and full of clean highland air and round maltiness despite its long time in Sherry wood. It is also mature- calm and round, but still full of vigor. Most Scotch of this age tastes too old and reduced for me, but this is full of verve. This is the malt of the year for me and a true great. If it is within your means, don't miss it!
2010 Louis Sipp "Nature'S" Pinot Blanc
Review Date: 11-6-2012
The wines of Louis Sipp impressed me at the staff tasting today with their purity and balance. This is very tasty, medium to full bodied wine with a creamy almost marmalade like nose. Although it is quite broad on the palate, it comes together very nicely on the finish. This is wonderful on its own, and also very good with finger food!
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!
Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siècle" 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
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.
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!
Osocalis Heritage Brandy 750ml
Review Date: 4-4-2012
I had no idea that California Brandy could reach these sort of heights. This is as fine a brandy as any in the world, full of rancio complexity and stately poise. This is a fine treat!
2009 Jacques Bavard Saint Romain Blanc
Review Date: 3-6-2012
This wine was wonderful paired with an onion and leek tart this weekend. With Chassagne-Montrachet texture and very precise, vivacious acidity, this wine will please the fussiest white Burgundy lover!
Drink from 2012 to 2017
Gosset "Brut Excellence" 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!
2003 Verdignan Rouge, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 9-13-2011
The 2003 vintage, which broke heat records all through Europe, was a darling of the wine press, but most of the wines came across too ripe for me. This is an exception, and a fantastic value. This is big Bordeaux, with lots of body, texture and tannin, yet it is still fresh and vibrant. I am looking forward to steak frites night at home as this Verdignan is just the bottle for rib eye in the cast iron and potatoes fried up in left over duck fat!
1985 Veuve Clicquot "Gold Label Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 6-4-2010
In general, I do not like the super rich style of Champagne. I find nothing better however, than having great wines make a liar out of me! The 1985 Veuve Clicquot Gold Label Reserve from magnum was a revelation for me- an ultra rich, toasty big house Champagne that I instantly fell in love with. Although I have no intention of giving up my habit of drinking super dry, mineral driven grower producers, this is a bottle that I can't wait to drink at home with some foie gras!
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!
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!
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