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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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Ramos Pinto White Port
Review Date: 2-5-2009
This dangerously delicious wine has a permanent spot in our home refrigerator door, and the empties are a constant feature in our recycling bin. A blend of several vintages that have been aged in large barrels, it takes a while for the wine to oxidize... Exactly how long we are not sure. The bottles simply have not lasted long enough for us to figure it out! I drink it as the main description recommends, on the rocks with a slice (or twist) of orange, but sometimes also use a Meyer lemon off the tree if my lovely wife is feeling generous enough to give one up. As soon as it is made, I check the clock - and won't allow myself a second one for another 15 minutes. This drink goes down far too easily, and will catch even an experienced wine professional by surprise! It is one of my favorite ways to make the transformation of day into evening!
Cadenhead's Old Raj Gin 110 Proof 750ml
Review Date: 1-20-2009
When is a gin worth $50 a bottle? When it tastes like this! I have far too much English blood in my veins, and gin is part of my heritage... I can't resist the stuff. This is simply one of the best, combing the wild exoticism of saffron with the staid authority and elegance of royalty. Cinnamon and I always keep a bottle in the house; it is a luxury worth indulging in. I love it for gin & tonic, as it says on the label "after the hunt"...
Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof, Bottled in Bond 750ml (3 bottle limit)
Review Date: 1-20-2009
I can't say that we have anything- spirits, wine, beer or other that delivers as much value as this superlative spirit. When Susan Purnell secured our first allocation of this producer’s rye, I immediately bought a bottle of this and the 21 year old. I loved the 21 year old, which I opened first, and was completely amazed by the standard bottling. If you have never had rye, you no longer have an excuse not to try it- if you love rye, do not let the low price fool you. This is a rich spirit, but does not have any of the bubble gum sweetness that small batch bourbons are often afflicted with. It also has a wild streak- think rye bread- that is hard to pin down. I enjoy the Rittenhouse on the rocks after dinner most often, but sometimes also indulge in an absinthe sazerac with this rye as the star ingredient. Feel free to write me for the recipe!
Ardbeg 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Whisky
Review Date: 1-14-2009
How does one judge a fine drink? My father and I have talked about this subject a lot, and one of his key questions is, "would I return to it?" With this expression of Ardbeg, my answer is a big yes. Susan just sold me a bottle of what will be the sixth expression of Ardbeg in my liquor cabinet at present. I love this distillery, and jump at the chance to buy each new bottling that comes our way... Yet I am drawn back most often to the distillery ten. It is the lightest, the brightest, the most untamed by wood and time of all of the Ardbegs we carry. It is full of peat - My wife Cinnamon can often smell it from across the room as I pour and will complain about it. So, don't by it for someone who does not like peat - they will hate it! I am sure that I return to it because it has the peat flavor that I love, but without the oily heaviness that I don't want after a big meal, and after a big meal is when I want Scotch the most. Don’t get me wrong, I love the variety and still drink my other bottles (all of which were more expensive), but I just empty this one fastest. It is delicious, and well worth the modest price.
2005 Fourcas Dupre, Listrac
Review Date: 9-9-2008
I think that one of the biggest misconceptions in the wine market is that 2005 Bordeaux is super-expensive. Yes, the famous names have raised their prices in quite an immodest way, but the vast majority of Bordeaux has hardly gone up enough to reflect the decline of the dollar. This delicious bottle of Medoc is a great example of value in Bordeaux, value in the world and perhaps the best Cabernet value in our stock at the moment! On the nose it is full of coffee, earth and black fruit, a real experience to smell. On the palate it is rich and a little oaky still, but on the whole it has an integrated, forthright Cabernet flavor. The finish is bright, the way left bank Bordeaux should be, with good chewy tannins to boot. Put some in your cellar- you can afford it!
Drink from 2010 to 2015
Collard-Picard "Cuvee Selection" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 5-21-2008
The NV Collard-Picard Cuvee Selection Brut is a blend of 80% pinot meunier and 20% chardonnay. The pinot meunier is from the Collard side of the family, from Olivier’s vineyards in the western Marne Valley. Nobody else in Champagne has such mastery over the native-to-Champagne varietal as the Collard family does. Rene’s vintage champagnes were made only in the best of years and carried on the tradition of the 19th century style of champagne. Several writers refer to those wines as being in the “British” style (truffles, cognac, sherry and caramel), though we have many Americans who shop with us who claim it as their own.
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