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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Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon 750ml
Review Date: 10-29-2013
The best value in Bourbon might be the best value in any spirit! If you haven't had this in a while, you owe it to yourself to pick up a bottle, you will not be disappointed. This spicy whiskey has plenty of sweet corn bread aromatics and flavors and a full rich texture. This is my go-to Bourbon for all of my drinks, and great neat as well. Don't count out the kick'n chicken!
Top Value!
Price: $20.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Basilio Izquierdo "Acodo" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 10-25-2013
Wow- I have never had white Rioja like this before! On a scale similar to the best white Bordeaux, this complex white is full of lanolin in the mouth and has one of the longest finishes of any wine that I have tasted this year. The Basilio Izquierdo Acodo has persistence that one wouldn't even hope for in a $100 bottle of wine, so if you want something adventurous and exotic, it will not disappoint! What a bottle!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2005 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (ships as 1.5L)
Review Date: 10-17-2013
This luscious blanc de blancs is very different than the laser precise 2004 that preceded it and fans of wines like Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne are going to flip for it. Made from two plots of over 50 year old vines, one in the Grand Cru of Oger called the Chenys and one in Mesnil called the Derriere Maison, this is one of the ultimate expressions of Chardonnay that we have to offer. These plots pre-date the clones, and are selection massal, giving the wine more complexity at the cost of yield and ease of farming. When I opened this for the staff on Tuesday we were knocked out by the nutty opulence of this Champagne and its generous croissant nose. This should continue to improve until 2025, but my first bottle won’t last the night… I have a Dungeness crab ready to pair with this in just a few hours!
Drink from 2013 to 2025
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1997 Potensac, Médoc
Review Date: 10-8-2013
Cinnamon and I are on a very strict diet, and one of the most important parts of that diet is eating steak and drinking claret once a week. Bordeaux is magic with steak. I know that many of you might think it is less than cutting edge, but this pairing is a classic for a reason. Recently we picked up ¼ of a steer from Fred Manas at Double Bar O ranch in Esparto, CA and this past Friday we indulged in a T-Bone from our haul. We gave it four days of dry age in the fridge, added salt and pepper and tossed it in the cast iron pan. We let it rest with a dab of black truffle butter on top and made some fries and a salad to go with it. The 1997 Potensac, Médoc, $26.99 is one of the most youthful 1997’s I have tasted, and needed the hour that we gave it in the decanter. It is very, very dark, and if I had tasted it blind I am positive I would have missed the vintage. That being said, I think the wine has a lot of charm now as well as power. This is a virile wine with plenty of strict tannin and acidity, but with plenty of black currant fruit to balance it out. It was perfect with the steak, but I would not trifle with this wine with finger food. It got better and better as the night went on and by the last glass was quite layered and complex. This is a steal and $26.99. If there is a steak in your future, don’t miss it!
Drink from 2012 to 2020
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2002 Piper-Heidsieck "Cuvée Rare" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 9-25-2013
The wonderfully rich Cuvee Rare from Piper Heidsieck reminds me of the great tete de cuvee's of years gone past. Like those, it is made in tiny quantities and only in the very best years- only 8 vintages have been made in 36 years! We drank this wine at a staff sushi and Champagne party at my house, and loved it with the eel especially, but I think the ultimate pairing for this wine would be a nice sunset. It doesn't need anything! I love the warm toastiness of this wine and its fine balance. The refreshing finish will have you coming back for more!
Drink from 2013 to 2022

City of London Gin 1L
Review Date: 9-19-2013
This is the new house pour for Cinnamon and I. It is a good high juniper style with plenty of excellent ginny taste. I love it for gin and tonics with fever tree, but best of all I love it for Negroni's. This, Campari and Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth don't all come in liter bottles for no reason- in equal proportions they make my favorite fresh mixed Negroni!
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 8-17-2013
The Ruinart Brut Blanc De Blancs is a wonderfully different style of Chardonnay based Champagne than any other that we have. While almost all of the others that we carry rely on the laser precision of Cote de Blanc fruit exclusively, this wine balances this electricity with the rich, nearly grapey Chardonnay of the Mountain of Reims. The result is magic; a full bodied blanc de blancs that still finishes dry and long!

2008 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 8-17-2013
This fantastic vintage Champagne is the first of the 2008's that we have received from a grand marque and a big statement on the quality of this long awaited vintage. The 2008's combine great ripeness with incredible acidity and the Louis Roederer Brut Rose balances these two features of the vintage perfectly. I have had the wine on three occasions already, and the best experience was at Quince, where the wine was paired with royal osetra caviar on brioche with edible flowers and hollandaise. The fine quality red fruit component and electric acidity of the wine was ideal for this great roe. This is subtle rose with a huge future!
Drink from 2013 to 2048

Ragnaud Sabourin K&L Exclusive Reserve Speciale #20 Cognac 750ml
Review Date: 7-30-2013
If you love great Cognac and don't need a famous name on the label, the Reserve Speciale 20 from Ragnaud Sabourin is one of the most compelling deals in the store. Worthy of the most special occasions, this has depth of fruit, lovely French vanilla and spice as well as an ease of drinking and balance usually only found at double the price.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Barkala Ridge Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley
Review Date: 7-24-2013
I have been lucky enough to taste this wine twice and it is an exceptional value for the money. The vast continent of Australia has been represented in the past by gigantic, high alcohol reds in the US market, but thanks to the hard work of K&L's Ryan Woodhouse, we are starting to see the rest of the story! Fine wines like this Oakridge Barkala Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley never made it out of the country in the past, but now we have an opportunity to get access to these gems. This Chardonnay has delicacy and finesse on the level with many more expensive white Burgundy's, and those looking for a Chassagne like experience will be very pleased with this medium weight, detailed, long finishing wine from Oakridge!

Launois "Quartz" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 7-16-2013
We can never get enough Launois Quartz at K&L. Unfortunately; the production is limited as Bernard Launois only has so many grapes each year in the great Mesnil plot of Les Chetillons. Having access to single vineyard, estate, grand cru Champagne from one of the best growers in the region at such a fair price makes me proud to be the Champagne guy at K&L. This wine has a fabulous white fruit quality that few Champagnes get at any price, and a chalky laser beam finish that is pure Mesnil. Don't miss this while we have it!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut Champagne
Review Date: 7-10-2013
I love extra brut Champagne, and Antoine Billecart has made a great example of the style with this bottling. He and I drank this along with his team at Quince in SF the last time he was here, and with four years on the lees, it came across as dry, but without a hint of austerity. Many big houses lack respect for Meunier, but not Billecart- this wine gets its charm from the clean fruit that this indigenous grape brings to the blend. It is composed of 40% Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir and the long, cool fermentation and generous lees time has given this wine the fruit and balance to please even a first time extra brut drinker.

2010 Cantina Terlan "Vorberg" Pinot Bianco Riserva
Review Date: 6-27-2013
If you would like some great white wine that drinks well now and will hold for at least a decade to come, and want it for less than $25, don't miss the Vorberg Pinot Bianco Riserva. This is powerful white wine that could be served in the place of Premier Cru Chassagne-Montrachet from a top producer with its leesy richness and weight. There is no trace of oak in this beauty, and the long, focused finish is in the class of our better bottles of Champagne! Check it out before it is gone!
Drink from 2013 to 2025
Price: Hidden Add To Waiting List AG 94 BC 0

2004 Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne
Review Date: 6-25-2013
When Champagne lovers ask me about what vintage they should think about collecting, I always bring up 2004 first. While many other vintages such as 2002, 2006 and 2007 have produced fabulous wines, they have all been crazy in one way or another. Because of climate change, the only two harvests that could be counted as typical, “classic” Champagne vintages in the last 25 years are 1988 and 2004. Of course, many vintages in the past 25 years have been great; 1989, 1990, 1996, 2002 and almost certainly 2008 and 2012. All of these vintages have a story, and all of them are odd. Even vintages with plenty of water and slow ripening, which over the last 200 years would be considered typical and classic, are an endangered species. The character of the 2004’s is very transparent, revealing of terroir (especially in single vineyard wines), long and light on its feet. The wines do not have the weight and authority of the 2002’s or the crazy concentration of the 1996’s. What they have is deft, elegant balance and I believe that they will, like the 1988’s, prove to be great. The Dom is a great indicator and example of the strength of this vintage. I can’t remember liking a vintage of Dom when it was first released as much as this since the 1990, or finding one of such good potential since the 1996. I wanted to make the most out of this chance to drink the 2004 as a preview and decided to prepare a special dinner for Cinnamon and I. I picked up an ounce of Osetra and we started out enjoying the bottle with blini and creme fraiche. For the main course I cooked some local wild king salmon on an alder plank on the grill after giving it a light brine. I topped it with some fleur de sel, pepper and paddlefish roe. The 2004 is certainly the driest non-Oenotheque release I have ever tasted from DP and the white gold color has a real flash of green to it. On the nose, the signature Dom Perignon yeastiness is front and center framed by some delicate Chardonnay fruit. The Osetra blini brought out the nuttiness of the Pinot Noir very nicely on the palate. It was too bad that there was only one ounce! One of the things that I learned from the DP seminar that I wrote about in April was that the wine is always close to 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, and this 2004 certainly tasted that way. When we had the salmon, which was very rich, the Dom showed more of its cutting, mineral driven Chardonnay side. This elegant bottle of Champagne went down very easily, and showed the strength of Moet’s massive vineyard resources and incredible store of knowledge. These wines age very well, and the 2004 has the balance to go the distance. I was very impressed!
Drink from 2013 to 2024

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 6-20-2013
I drank this fantastic Champagne on my birthday on Tomales bay - eating oysters’ right out of the beds where they grew, and I drank it out of magnum with caviar on New Years Eve 2008/2009. This wine is very worthy of the most special occasions despite its reasonable price; it is silky yet bracing, complex yet gulpable - it really has it all. It is a truly affordable luxury!
Top Value!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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More Favorites

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2013 Quarter Acre Sauvignon Blanc Hawke's Bay ($16.99)

2011 Moulin de la Gardette "Tradition" Gigondas ($24.99)

Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($39.99)

2013 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre ($19.99)

2008 Ariston Aspasie Brut Champagne ($39.99)

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2013 Eric Cottat Sancerre ($18.99)

2012 Ellero "Pisa Terrace" Pinot Noir Central Otago ($29.99)

2012 Elephant Hill Pinot Noir Central Otago ($24.99)

2014 Cognizant Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($14.99)

2013 Château Font-Mars Picpoul de Pinet ($11.99)

2012 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône ($11.99)

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

2013 Chante Cigale Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ($29.99)

2012 Champy Bourgogne Chardonnay "Signature" ($19.99)

2012 Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($29.99)

2013 Cakebread Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($25.99)

2007 Bodegas Puelles Rioja Reserva ($19.99)

1999 Bodegas Puelles Gran Reserva Rioja ($19.99)

2013 Bodegas Puelles Blanco Rioja ($9.99)

2012 Bodega Mendel "Estate" Malbec Mendoza ($24.99)

2013 Blason Friulano Isonzo ($9.99)

2012 Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($22.99)

2012 Baccinetti "La Saporoia" Rosso di Montalcino ($14.99)

2009 Baccinetti "La Saporoia" Brunello di Montalcino ($29.99)

2001 Arnauld, Haut-Médoc ($18.99)

2013 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99)

2012 Abtei Muri Sudtirol "Weiss" (Super Bianco) ($29.99)

2013 Abbaye Saint Hilaire Coteaux Varois en Provence Rosé ($13.99)