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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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

2005 Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-20-2013
This Champagne has an immensely creamy nose with hints of brioche and ripe pear. On the palate it shows the best of the 2005 harvest in Champagne with plenty of exotic, candied fruit and fancy pastry dough. This is rich and full bodied blanc de blancs and has a very good finish, which is focused but not austere in any way. I can’t wait to try this with some scallops!
Drink from 2013 to 2018

Pierre Moncuit "Cuvée Pierre Moncuit-Delos Grand Cru" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 3-20-2013
This wine has a big nose that is Meursault like in its scale but without the oak. I found it full of ripe fruit and fragrant wild flowers. On the palate it is dry and cutting on the back end but full and ripe up front. This all Mesnil, all estate Champagne really shows its class on the finish, which is very, very long for its low price. So good!

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.

2004 Moët & Chandon "Grand Vintage" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-16-2013
Cinnamon and I enjoyed this for the aperitif with some black and white truffle popcorn on Monday night this week. I love starting off the week with Champagne, and this 2004 surprised me by being my favorite current release of Moet Chandon Grand Vintage Brut that I have ever tasted. It had everything that makes 2004 such a great year in Champagne- clean, linear fruit, excellent focused acidity and a super long finish!
Drink from 2013 to 2024

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

2002 Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 3-15-2013
Yesterday I attended a Dom Perignon seminar and welcomed at the Rosewood resort in Menlo Park with a glass of the 2002 Dom Perignon Blanc. It has settled down a lot in the year since I last tasted it. I thought it was great that they showed the wine in large bowled glasses which really brough out the best in the wine. It glittered with a green tinged white gold color in the Sand Hill sun on the veranda and had a nose of pastry dough and clean cane sugar. On the palate it was rich, full bodied and had plenty of white fruit up front. The dosage had integrated very nicely, and it showed quite a bit drier than I remembered it. This is a great Champagne to serve, or keep in magnum.

1996 Moët & Chandon "Dom Pérignon Oenothéque" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-15-2013
This Dom isfrom one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century. This famed harvest is known as the 10/10 in the region, for combining very high ripeness (10% potential alcohol) with very high acidity (10 grams per liter of acidity). Region wide stats like this are very rare, since usually acidity drops as ripeness increases. This is the same wine as the 1996 Dom Perignon blanc, but with more time on the lees- effectivly an "RD" release. I tasted it yesterday at a Dom Perignon seminar and the boquet was extremely fresh, with lots of white-fleshed fruit touched by a bit of spicy bread character. On the palate the wine had a strong Pinot character with some meaty flavor, but the finish was an all Chardonnay affair, with length and minerality that go forever. The dosage is adjusted down on these more recently disgorged bottles, and that combined with the extra time on the lees make them very worth seeking out- especially in a vintage as great as 1996!

1998 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 3-7-2013
This Gran Reserva Rioja is great wine, and an unbelievable value for the quality. Cinnamon and I had this Bodegas Casa Juan Senor De Lesmos last night with thick cut pork chops and Spanish rice and were blown away by its class and intensity. This Rioja was one of the most concentrated and intense old school wines I have ever had. Rather than being blown away by oak, we were treated to intense savory red fruit and a laser finish that flattered the meal to no end. It held up to the spice in the rice with no problem and is on my list to buy today!
Top Value! Drink from 2013 to 2028
Price: $29.99 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: $11.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Laphroaig "Triple Wood" Islay Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 2-28-2013
This is a big dram of whisky! The Laphroaig Triple Wood has a deep golden color and a very rich doughnut house nose with bass note peat. On the palate this single malt is oily and textural with lots of glycerol sweetness, but the bright, briny peat elements bring it into balance. This is manly Islay to drink by the fire on a cold night!
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart WA 94 BC 0

2005 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 2-28-2013
Last night Cinnamon and I had this rich bottle of Rioja with thick cut pork chops and rice pilaf spiked with some good sour cream. It was a great match, and this very rich, more modern style wine had an opulence that did not interfere with the food friendliness of the bottle. I only decanted it 15 minutes ahead since we both had just come home from work, and we were hustling to get food on the table. That little bit of time in the decanter was all the wine needed to taste great. The Miguel Merino has a very dark color for Rioja and a nose full of the vanilla that I always look for in wines from this region. It also has a lovely coffee or even mocha like flavor running through the ripe black fruit that is at its core. This wine manages to have great sweet primary fruit without getting exagerated and to show some flashy wood without being taken over by it. We loved it with the food and the bottle disappeared far too quickly!
Drink from 2013 to 2020

Gonzalez Byass "Matusalem" Oloroso VORS (375ml)
Review Date: 2-26-2013
Cinnamon and I drank this last night with an English cheese course of Stilton, Cotswold and cheddar, reliving our first trip to London together. On that trip, we had made a pilgrimage to Neal's Yard Dairy in the old city and bought a similar cheese course to pair with the very first bottle of Gonzalez Byass Matusalem that we had ever tried. Since then, we have been lucky enough to drink it on many occasions, but last night was one of the best. This sherry has a dark mahogany color and the perfume of a wine of a great age. The rich figgy flavors are countered by cheddar like piquancy that made the pairing perfect. The finish is very focused and driven, with rancio notes as well as pure chalky minerality. This wine is plenty sweet, but I will never tire of it, it is dangerously refreshing!

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