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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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: $44.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2000 Labegorce, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 5-3-2014
Always better from magnum! We decanted this wine about and hour ahead of dinner. This is an important first step with this 14 year old, as it needs a little time to open up after its decade plus in the bottle. The bouquet is very generous with this wine and I found everything from earthy, animal savor to cool cassis on the nose. In the mouth the wine was seamless with perfect medium body, a gift from the time in the bottle that can’t be replicated by wine making tricks. With the tannins resolving nicely, the acidity still bright and the fruit still sweet, this wine was ideal with the rich and flavorful dry aged New York steaks we paired it with. I have to admit to drinking a little bit more than my share of this one. Sorry Cinnamon! With the big names of Bordeaux still charging a king’s ransom, many of our customers are turned off by Bordeaux. The 2000 Labégorce is a great example of why this category still has a lot to offer in special wines that one can still afford. If you like Bordeaux, and like a good steak, don’t miss this one!
Drink from 2014 to 2030
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-21-2014
Non-vintage Champagne does not get better than this. The Paillard family makes a statement with this great cuvee and show how very serious that they are about quality. All of the details have been studied and sweated over to make this wine, from planting only massal selected vines, to working towards an organic certification. This is Champagne that has power without losing its drinkability, and richness without sweetness. If you are only going to try one new Champagne this year, this should be it!
Drink from 2014 to 2019
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart WS 92 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

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Chardonnay Marlborough New Zealand
Review Date: 1-29-2014
This Te Whare Ra was one of the stars of our New Zealand tasting. I found this Chardonnay to have a serious Chassagne-like nose and robust richness in the mouth. The wine comes together very nicely on the back with great focus, acidity and tremendous length. I think this would make a great ringer in a $50+ white Burgundy tasting!
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 1-22-2014
Mature Pomerol for $35? Thanks Clyde for finding us another great deal in aged Bordeaux! This wine has the plummy fruit and fancy mocha oak nose that seduces so many wine lovers. It is a ripe, full bodied wine that still keeps enough tension and balance to be good claret and not just another "international style" wine and will make a fine partner to an array of meat dishes.
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

2004 Malmaison, Moulis
Review Date: 1-22-2014
My top value steak wine in the store! Bordeaux, often demonized for being to expensive, offers some of the finest deals in the store- just don't go looking for the 20 biggest names! This bottle is really singing at 10 years old and has so much to offer the wine fan that doesn't need a bunch of extra fat and thickness in their Cabernet. This wine has an open, expressive bouquet of currants and some nice ripe fruit in the mouth. I love the focus of this wine and can't wait to have it with a simple steak & frites dinner!
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2024
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2000 Kalin Cellars Livermore Valley Sémillon
Review Date: 1-16-2014
This Livermore Valley Semillon is a worthy challenger to many of the great white Bordeaux that we have on the shelf at much higher prices. I was stunned by freshness of this wine--it still has a green glint in the gold straw hue of the wine. While this wine is completely dry, the flavors remind me of honey and it has a full-bodied, rich mouthfeel. The finish is long with hints of caramel, but is still refreshing. Wow!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart RP 93 BC 0

2011 Joseph Swan "Cuvée de Trois" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 1-16-2014
Joseph Swan is my favorite of all Sonoma Pinot Nois, and the wines from this small producer are great across the board. This 2011 Cuvee De Trois is light in color and alcohol and big on savory flavor. The nose reminded me of chocolate cherries and catnip, and the flavor was wonderfully dry, serious, earthy Pinot Noir. This will make a great partner from everything from roast chicken to rack of lamb, and older vintages have proven that this wine develops wonderfully in the cellar. Great stuff!
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2031
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Hanzell "Sebella" Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 1-16-2014
The top notch Hanzell Sebella would make a great ringer in a Puligny-Montrachet tasting. I found this medium to light bodied Chardonnay to have fantastic lime like raciness and excellent length. What a good bottle!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart WE 91 BC 0

Vino Noceto "Nutz!" Amador County Sangiovese Blend
Review Date: 1-16-2014
I have never had a domestic Sangiovese that I liked well enough to recommend before this, but I can't recommend this one highly enough! This great value bottle from Amador has a lot of extroverted wild raspberry fruit framed with a dollop of American oak, good medium body and a slightly earthy, driven Sangiovese finish. This is a great weeknight red!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Lot 40 Rye 2012 Release Canadian Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 1-15-2014
Great rye whiskey is not easy to come by at any price and great Canadian rye is even harder to find. This Lot 40 is clearly the best rye in the store and one of the best that I have tasted in a decade. With a wonderful bouquet of Christmas spice and a complex array of flavors, this Canadian will please the pickiest of whiskey fans. The fact that it still comes across as easy going and moreish even with the wild rye flavor and layers of complexity made a big impression on me. I will make room in my cabinet!
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Churchill's Vintage Port
Review Date: 1-14-2014
This wonderfully open-knit 2011 has aromas of blackberry jam and vanilla and is one of the cleanest young vintage ports I have ever tasted. This wine is bound to gain complexity over the decades, and will be a great asset to any cellar!
Drink from 2021 to 2041

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