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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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Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (2008)
Review Date: 11-9-2013
Last night, Cinnamon and I had such a great experinece with our sushi and Chamapgne that I had to write about it. I found that this wine brought out the sweetness in the hamachi and the ahi highlighted the deep savor in the wine. I loved every sip of this wine, and might have hogged it a little. I was worried that the wine would be to rich to go with the vinegary Julie roll, but it had no problem with it, and brought out even more of the umami in this delicious treat. What a good bottle!
1982 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Reserva
Review Date: 11-7-2013
The brick colored 1982 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Reserva impressed me with its woodsy, red cherry tempranillo bouquet and purity on the palate. This is fabulous mature wine for graduates of aged Rioja, as the tannins are completely resolved without sacrificing focus on the finish. This would be a very special bottle for a leg of lamb!
2011 Croix Mouton, Bordeaux Supérieur
Review Date: 11-5-2013
The precocious 2011 Croix Mouton has all the virtues of the best Bordeaux Superieur and made me feel like I was in a Paris bistro eating steak frites as soon as I tasted it. This plummy, soft wine is so approachable and fun without being flabby or weak in any way. Bordeaux isn't all expensive, and this bottle is far superior to domestic Merlot blends at this price or even the $20 mark. Yum!
Ariston Aspasie Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 11-5-2013
Nothing works better with the wide range of flavors on the Thanksgiving table than rose Champagne. For me, no rose in our stock is better suited for this holiday than the Aspasie. It has plenty of friendly refreshment for the aperitif, but the depth of Pinot Noir flavor to go with the turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. I can't remember a Thanksgiving that we did not have the Ariston Aspasie Brut Rose at our table, and wouldn't want to imagine one!
Russell's Reserve 10 year old Small Batch Bourbon 750ml
Review Date: 10-29-2013
My Bourbon of choice for sipping after dinner, the 10 Year Old Small Batch from Jimmy Russell is one of the great values in our extensive collection. The high toned savory rye flavors balance the sweetness of the corn to make this one of the most grown up, focused Bourbon's that we have at any price. I am never without a bottle in my liquor cabinet!
Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon 750ml
Review Date: 10-29-2013
Wow! This cask strength masterpiece has everything I could want in Bourbon. Jimmy Russell has done it again, producing a spirit of balance and complexity without losing the wildness that makes these drinks so exciting. This is packed, concentrated stuff with plenty of sweet corn and savory rye flavors and a finish that goes on forever. What great Bourbon!
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!
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!
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
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
2005 Island Distillery (Ledaig) 7 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 10-2-2013
I love the balance of this young peaty whiskey. Unlike many young "craft" type malts, it does not try to hide the fact that it is young with tricks, and its freshness is a great part of its charm. It is a lovely dram as an after work drink with one large ice cube, and a bracing after dinner drink on its own. The texture is full without being oily, and the finish is remarkably long. I wonder who made it? I'll keep sipping and guessing!
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!
2004 Pierre Moncuit "Cuvée Nicole Moncuit Vieilles Vignes" Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 8-20-2013
Champagne doesn’t get better than this- I could not believe how much class this 2004 had, even though I have been lucky enough to have many, many past vintages of this cuvee. This great bottle of Mesnil Grand Cru is made from two over 90 year old plots, some of the oldest vines in all of Champagne. The nose is restrained, detailed and multifaceted: I found perfect baguette, savory spice and fresh pineapple in the bouquet. On the palate it had both the lush richness of ancient vines and the fabulous mineral focus of some of the best chalk vineyard in all of Champagne. This wine sings with both ripe fruit and mineral freshness… Too bad there is so little!
Drink from 2013 to 2024
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!
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