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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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

2002 Thienot "La Vigne aux Gamins" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 4-27-2013
Last night at the Plumed Horse in Saratoga we drank a full 1% of the entire production of the single vineyard Thienot La Vigne Aux Gamins Blanc De Blancs Brut Champagne. The packed room was thrilled to get a chance to enjoy such a rarity with Garance Thienot and I am glad that there is still a little bit of the California allocation left to sell! This spectacular Avize Chardonnay has the exotic fruit that only a very old, well exposed vineyard can give and depth of chalky grip that comes from purest of Belmnita soils. It was a profound pairing with the Alaskan halibut course and it was worth feeling a little less than bright eyed today to drink my share of this great Champagne! Get it while you can- it won't take many more nights like last night to drain all the bottles in the state!
Drink from 2013 to 2042

2006 Thienot "Cuvée Garance" Brut Blanc de Rouges Champagne
Review Date: 4-27-2013
Even a guy as lucky as me doesn't get the chance to drink a bottle of Champagne at dinner with the woman it was named after very often! Last night Garance Thienot hosted a spectacular dinner at the Plumed Horse in Saratoga, and poured her 2006 Thienot Cuvee Garance Blanc De Rouges. This is an exceptional all Pinot Champagne that has the full flavor that one would expect, but a level of elegance uncommon in even the lightest of blanc de blancs. This wine was spectacular with the Diamond T Quail with brioche and dried apricots and I can't wait to try it again with some pate!
Drink from 2013 to 2026

1999 Thienot "Cuvée Alain Thiénot" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 4-27-2013
Maturity is a must for me in any wine that would be called great. If a wine hasn't had the time, it can only be potentially great! The 1999 Thienot Cuvee Alain Thienot has been given the time to develop, and last night at the Plumed Horse in Saratoga was a great moment to drink it. This Champagne had so much complexity and depth, but didn't become overwrought or heavy in any way. It was spectacular with the Berkshire pork belly with pickled red onion and spinach as the fatty richness of the pig brought out the mineral edge of this round wine. This is a great bottle for the most special of occasions!
Drink from 2013 to 2019

Thienot Brut Champagne
Review Date: 4-27-2013
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited by Garance Thienot to the Plumed Horse in Saratoga for an incredible Champagne dinner. I hadn't been to this restaurant in more than a decade and the story about it being the biggest fine dining remodel in all of Silicon Valley must be true- it was amazing inside. We started the dinner off with this rich, full bodied, toasty Champagne that still had the snap to make a great aperitif. What a tasty wine!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

Club Price: $34.99
ST 90 BC 0

2009 Cambon La Pelouse, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 4-23-2013
What a great value! It is a shame that so much of this super quality Bordeaux will be drunk to young. The 2009 Cambon La Pelouse Haut Medoc has the charm to make it accessible for early drinking and a super fair price, but its best days are ahead of it. This wine is classic, curranty Haut Medoc with plenty of minerality to balance the richness of the vintage. Put some in the cellar- you will thank me for it!
Top Value! Drink from 2013 to 2029

2009 La Lagune, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 4-23-2013
If you are looking for great 2009 Bordeaux for your cellar, the 2009 La Lagune Haut Medoc should be at the top of your list. This property sits in the southern part of the Haut-Medoc and routinely out does its neighbors in Margaux with its generous, ethereal aromatics. This 2009 is concentrated, but the power is only part of the story. For me it is the overall balance and finesse of this classic claret that makes it so noteworthy- all it needs is time!
Drink from 2019 to 2049

2000 Daniel Ginsburg "Cuvée Sous Bois" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 4-23-2013
A slab of pate, a loaf of bread, a bottle of 2000 Daniel Ginsburg Cuvee Sous Bois Brut Champagne is all that was needed to make a spectacular evening! This rich bottle has all the flavor to stand up to the most flavorful pate, and all of the snap to refresh after each decadent bite. So far, this is on my short list of top Champagne experiences for 2013... Don't miss it!
Top Value! Drink from 2013 to 2030
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 4-19-2013
One of the top wines tasted on my April trip was the 2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne which is a new disgorgement. This current batch has four more years on the lees than the first bottles that we sold, and the dosage has been dropped to 5.6 grams per liter. This wine is so creamy and perfect texturally that it is easy to get carried away with. The honeyed pastry nose has a little hint of vanilla from the barrel vinification, but the chalky drive balances it perfectly. The pineapple like, subtle fruit of this great Champagne remind me so much of Meursault but the mineral finish could only be Champagne. Don’t miss this one.
Drink from 2013 to 2032
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne
Review Date: 4-18-2013
This is great Champagne. Louis Roederer has been pushing quality like few others in the region over the last decade, and no wine shows the heights that they have reached as well as the Brut Premier. With massive investment in organic viticulture, including a massive purchase of 1er vineyards from Leclerc-Briant, a return to plowing in the vineyard instead of chemical treatment and obsession with every detail in the winery they have created something here that has no rival among the big names, especially at this price. The 1/3 of the fruit that they buy comes from growers like Benoit Marguet- so you know they are getting top stuff. While most of my time is spent advocating for single origin Champagnes, this bottle is a great argument for blending and the balance that cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon created here is second to none. This wine has a great brioche nose and plenty of vivacious sparkle. It is a perfect aperitif!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

Club Price: $34.99
WE 92 ST 91 WS 91

Moet & Chandon "Impérial" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-20-2013
This wine replaced the white star in the US market in the fall of 2009 as Champagne lovers here asked for a drier style. Starting in the summer of 2012 all the Imperial is labeled Brut and the dosage is the same worldwide- 9 grams per liter. They blend four batches of the imperial a year, keeping the winemaking team and bottling lines busy. When I drank this with Moet winemaker Elise Losfelt, she explained that the first blend in January following the harvest uses the most reserve wines- around 30%, while the last blend of the year will use around 20% because of the better maturity of the base vintage. Since they want a fresh style of wine at Moet, they only use one to two year old reserve wines. They age all of the Imperial for 30 months on the lees before release. This was certainly the best Imperial I have drunk, with a discreet nose of bread dough and apple-like Meunier fruit. It was easy to drink, dry and clean and a nice way to start an evening.

2005 Elisabeth Goutorbe Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-16-2013
This is a fantastic wine, and is the best example of the village of Ay that we carry here at K&L. This south facing, very steep cru in the center of Marne valley is perfect for ripening Pinot Noir to full power, but also has the most pure chalk of any place in Champagne where this grape is grown. This tension between ripe Pinot Noir flavor and incisive chalkiness is the signature of Ay, and defines the 2005 Elisabeth Goutorbe Brut. Last night, Cinnamon cooked a Japanese feast of salmon, scallops, white rice and broccoli rabe tempura. I can't think of any wine on the planet that would have gone better with this meal. With plenty of sinewy black cherry Pinot fruit for the salmon and cutting Ay chalk for the rich scallop, I was in wine and food heaven. If you love Champagne, don't miss this wine!
Drink from 2013 to 2025
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

La Cigarrera Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda (375ml)
Review Date: 3-7-2013
Manzanilla Sherry delivers so much pleasure for so little money... With the La Cigarrera Manzanilla Sanlucar De Barrameda it might be too much! Cinnamon and I cracked this little half bottle last night for the aperitif and enjoyed some Marcona almonds with rosemary with it. Before we knew it, that half bottle was in the recycling bin! This bone dry, electric Manzanilla has a nose of marzipan and sea air that took my mind back to Andalusia. This light, delicate bottle was way too easy to drink!
Top Value!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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