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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Franck Bonville Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
This elegant, driven Champagne is my top rose for serving as the aperitif. A colleague of mine once bought a case of this for his wife, and half of it was consumed the first night at a quite small dinner party... The Franck Bonville Brut Rose is a little bit too easy to drink! If you want some of the intrigue of Pinot Noir but with the structure of a dry Blanc de Blancs, you have found it!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
I feel guilty for consuming too much of our allocation of this wine, but never when I am drinking it! I have had many great bottles of this, and one of the most memorable was not from the K&L allocation, but rather off the wine list at Bistro 7 in Epernay. I was dining alone, and it felt extra special and decadent to order a bottle just for me off of their fairly priced list. It went spectacularly with the rabbit terrine and even better with the seared turbot. The Bonville Prestige has ripe, round white fruit balanced perfectly by old vine top terroir, Avize chalk. This wine has texture to beat most of over $100 bottles of Champagne on our shelves!
Top Value!
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart WS 92 BC 0

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 3-3-2015
I always have to order extra of these magnums - Clyde & Trey always gobble up about half of what we get! All Champagne has an advantage in magnum, seeing more surface area for lees contact and half the amount of air exposure. Already exceptional out of 750, the Bonville Selection picks up both richness and zip in the larger format bottle - making it the "smallest" big bottle that we have. It ends up empty far too soon!

Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
I opened this magnum as business petered off on Christmas eve for the staff here in the Redwood City store, and it made me a popular man at K&L. Carrying a magnum around to the various work stations put a smile on many faces here, and the wine inside the bottle kept those smiles. This wine is single vineyard, from the very steep Gouttes d’Or site in Brouillet, and has a very different style than the Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs. This is creamy, decadent wine, and great on its own in the final moments of the retail rush…or just about any time! I need to buy this for my cellar.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 3-3-2015
It is embarrassing to have hogged so much of this tiny production beauty for myself, but an embarrassment that I am willing to live with. Olivier Bonville only makes a handful of these magnums each year. Out of 750ml, this Champagne is one of our best. Out of magnum, it is transcendent. Take it away from me- please!

Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
This is one of my very favorite non-vintage Champagnes! Cinnamon and I shipped this to Costanoa, a resort by the beach (better than carrying it on our bicycle!) and enjoyed it alfresco after a day in the saddle. We carried Riedel "O" stemless glasses in our jersey pockets (don't try this at home kids!) because we forgot to ship them... We were glad we did. This wine has so much complexity and subtlety it would have been a shame to drink it out of substandard glassware. The Grand Cuvee is very powerful Pinot-based stuff, with a hint of smoke on the nose, a very supple texture and a bone dry, persistent finish. A great reward after a long ride!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Bollinger Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
This spectacular bottle delivers the vinous power that one would expect from Bollinger, but with elegant panache. It is one of the best rosés available at any price.

Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
My jaw almost dropped when I learned the story of the new Charles Heidsieck from Cecile Bonnefond, the CEO of both Charles and Piper. Instead of the normal package change / price increase rationalized by “increased international demand” this wine had been improved at great cost to the producer before the price went up! The new package contains a selection of half the vineyard sites of the old one, and older reserve wines. The result is non-vintage Champagne that is better than most big house vintage wines and a stronger value now at the current price than the old Charles was at $34.99. When we poured this at a recent in-store tasting on “House Style” it was one of the stars of the night. This Champagne has depth, combining maturity and freshness, nutty intrigue and minerality!

2000 Gruaud Larose, St-Julien
Review Date: 2-26-2015
This bottle was a generous contribution from Sean Fernandez in our old and rare department at our 2000 Bordeaux wine dinner, and was a contender for wine of the night. It is composed of about 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petite Verdot. The Gruaud was the earthiest, most savory bottle of the whole tasting, and had a little bit of bret that in no way detracted from my appreciation of the wine. It had dark fruit and leather flavors and one of the best supple, medium bodied textures of the whole evening. It was seamless and beautiful wine that drank great now with balance for the ages.
Drink from 2015 to 2050

2000 Montrose St-Estèphe
Review Date: 2-26-2015
Given that some of the Montrose from the 1960’s is only just now starting to drink, this exotic 2000 drank very nicely this evening. It is composed of approximately 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petite Verdot. The wine was very dark, full of spice and kirsch like fruit on the nose. In the mouth it had lots of richness, more dark fruit and a powerful tannic punch. It will no doubt be even better in another five or ten years.
Drink from 2015 to 2050

2000 Ducru-Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Review Date: 2-26-2015
If I had to pick one bottle as the wine of the night from our incredible dinner of 2000 Bordeaux, this would be it. Composed of about 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, this Ducru was timeless. It drinks so well right now, but doubtless will make an excellent 50 year old, not because of its size, but because of its exquisite balance. My notebook was full of questions rather than observations on this bottle: How does so much perfectly pure Cabernet cassis flavor and aroma come across so effortlessly? What can I say about this wine? It seemed light and easy to drink, but it was also so long, complex and concentrated. The acid and tannins are in perfect balance with the fruit. I think Cinnamon said it best as we drank it together: this bottle has pedigree.
Drink from 2015 to 2060

2000 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 2-26-2015
From our great staff 2000 Bordeaux dinner. A very large scale Margaux composed of about 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petite Verdot. This wine had generous aromatics, with everything from dark cassis to green peppers on the nose. In the mouth it was the sweetest of the Medoc wines, and among the sweetest of the whole tasting, with lots of rich fruit, full body and big texture. This also has a big backbone of tannin, and drinks well right now with richer dishes like the short ribs that we had with it.
Drink from 2015 to 2025

2000 Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Léognan (1.5L)
Review Date: 2-26-2015
From our 2000 Bordeaux dinner. Composed of about 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Petite Verdot. I love wines that are easy to drink like this! This graves open and generous and had the virtues of both dark fruit depth and red fruit freshness. The tannins were very nicely evolved and silky, giving the wine a special, supple texture. The finish did not lack for classic Graves minerality and had plenty of clean earth and lengthening acidity. This is great for now, but isn't ticking… It should last very well.
Drink from 2015 to 2035

2006 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 2-24-2015
Our allocation of Cristal Rose is so tiny that we can never guarantee a consistency of supply. It is so well guarded by the house of Roederer that I have only tasted one vintage of this in my 15 years of Champagne buying for K&L. Nearly the entire production goes to the best restaurants in the world, and we feel lucky to have some to offer.
Price: $499.00 Add To Cart WS 95 BC 0

Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-24-2015
This is the best selling Champagne in the USA.

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