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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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

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

Ragnaud Sabourin K&L Exclusive Fontevieille #35 Cognac 750ml
Review Date: 7-30-2013
Tasting the Fontevieille 35 Cognac from Ragnaud Sabourin made me wish for a big fire, a big chair and a big snifter. This mature, old fashioned Cognac has plenty of the rancio character that the big houses reserve for their blends in fancy bottles at 10x the price. I found this expansive, deep and complex Cognac worthy of reflection at the end of the evening. It is a very fine value in top class Cognac!
Price: $169.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Chateau de Pellehaut K&L Exclusive L'Age de Glace Tenareze Armagnac 750ml
Review Date: 7-30-2013
This brand new bottling from Chateau De Pellehaut is guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing of all of our cocktail loving customers. The l'Age Des Glace is a light bodied, very well balanced brandy that I can't wait to get home and use for a French 75. I found it very enjoyable and laid back without it losing its uniquely Armagnac personality. Now I need to make more room in the liquor cabinet!
Price: $27.99 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: $26.99 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

Absolut Elyx Single Estate Vodka 1L
Review Date: 5-15-2013
The Absolut Elyx Single Estate impressed me with its effortless presence, it seemed to tease me with a hidden flavor or texture, and this hard to describe but easy to appreciate vodka changed the way that I think about the whole category. Since I tasted it yesterday with Mr. Driscoll I have not been able to stop thinking about it! Vodka is not an easy thing for a wine guy to get excited about. It is meant to be flavorless, which seems like a strange goal for something that goes in your mouth. If you have been drinking Grey Goose or Chopin and want to see what one of the world’s top producers of vodka can do when they really put their mind to it, this is bottle is a must.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1982 Léoville-Las Cases, St-Julien
Review Date: 4-30-2013
This is perfect Bordeaux, and is just now hitting its stride after 31 years. To describe the flavors would be a fool’s errand; so much has already been said about this standard setting claret. I'll just say that it is undeniable wine and that it has enough richness for the most glycerin hungry California wine drinker and enough grace and transparency for the most demanding of modern connoisseurs. Cinnamon and I were treated to this great bottle by our friend Jeff who paired with a fabulous New York Steak. This is the equal to even the 1982 Latour, and worth a sacrifice to try!
Drink from 2013 to 2022

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