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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2003 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 11-5-2013
This lovely claret has none of the excesses that some of the 2003 vintage wines have, but instead shows great freshness and minerality. Old school Bordeaux fans love Chateau Lanessan for its earthiness and restraint, and this bottle comes through with both. If you are looking for something ready to drink that is under $20, look no further! I can't wait to sear off a juicy top sirloin and drink one of these wonderful bottles of claret!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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!
Top Value!
Price: $33.99 Add To Cart WE 92 BC 0

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

1989 Couly-Dutheil "Baronnie Madeleine" Chinon
Review Date: 10-29-2013
I love having mature wine on the shelf at reasonable prices. This special Baronnie Madeleine bottling from Couly Dutheil made a huge impression on Cinnamon and I. She had prepared a white bean soup with a smoked ham hock, along with some Gruyere gougers for our Saturday night meal and requested a Chinon to go with it. When I saw this on the shelf, I couldn't resist! It turned out to be the best Loire red that either of us has ever had, with incredible sweet rosemary and black olive aromatics, completely resolved tannin and light, elegant, lifted body. The finish went on and on, and this Chinon went perfectly with the dinner. Wow!
Price: $59.99 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

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!
Top Value!
Price: $59.99 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

2005 Michel Loriot Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 9-19-2013
If you are looking for a bottle of rich vintage Champagne- look no further! The Wednesday night crew here at K&L polished one of these off last night and I was very impressed with the golden opulence of this 2005. Michel Loriot makes full bodied Champagne, and this is a great example of the style. If you love wines like Krug, but don't always have the budget, this is worth a try!
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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

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!

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

2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-7-2013
This Saturday Cinnamon and I drank a fabulous bottle of 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne with an equally great piece of Salmon from local fisherman Pietro Parravano. As I have repeated as often as possible, to anyone who will listen, the 2004’s are the vintage to collect right now and put in the cellar. While good and great vintages on either side of 2004 have many attributes to recommend them by, 2004 is alone in its classicism. The Bollinger is one of the strongest examples of this vintage that I have tasted.This great Champagne has not yet reached its potential, but like many great young vintage’s it was all too easy to drink now- especially with a meal. Cinnamon had broiled the salmon fillet with a miso-mayonaise glaze and served it with perfectly fried rounds of rosa bianca eggplant. She cooked the ultra-fresh salmon perfectly and we were able to enjoy it as seared sashimi in the middle and fully cooked on the thinner sides. The salmon played well to the vinous, Pinot power of the Bollinger that on its own was quite light on its feet. It was quite a treat to come home to this after work!
Drink from 2013 to 2034

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