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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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

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: $12.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 McHenry Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 3-5-2013
Honest Pinot Noir at an honest price is one of the most difficult things to find in California right now. The incredible trend towards Pinot Noir drinking since the "Sideways" movie came out has inspired many overpriced, overripe, Syrah spiked wines that get big scores but lack the finesse that I look for from this varietal. The Mchenry Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir gets it right with a pale purple/ violet color and a touch of beef on its generous red fruit nose. On the palate the charming candied cherry fruit and light body make this wine a perfect candidate for your next roast chicken!
Drink from 2013 to 2020
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 2-26-2013
I feel guilty for consuming too much of our allocation of this wine, but never when I am drinking it! I have had many great bottles of this, and one of the most memorable was not from the K&L allocation, but rather off the wine list at Bistro 7 in Epernay. I was dining alone, and it felt extra special and decadent to order a bottle just for me off of their fairly priced list. It went spectacularly with the rabbit terrine and even better with the seared turbot. The Bonville Prestige has ripe, round white fruit balanced perfectly by old vine top terroir, Avize chalk. This wine has texture to beat most of over $100 bottles of Champagne on our shelves!
Top Value!
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart WS 92 BC 0

Sandeman "Royal Corregidor" VOS Oloroso Jerez (500ml)
Review Date: 2-22-2013
I had this last night with an English cheese course at home of Stilton, Cheddar and Cotswald and narrowly escaped drinking the whole bottle with Cinnamon. Old Sherry is hands down the finest value in all of fine wine and this is a great example. The youngest wine in this blend it at least 20 years old and the oldest goes back to the foundation of the solera in 1894. This great amount of time in wood, and the added complexity of blending nearly 100 harvests has created a wine of outstanding depth. The Royal Corregidor is full of the rancio and walnut flavors that make me flip for old Oloroso, and has just enough sweetness from Pedro Ximmenez to make it an ideal night cap. Take advantage of the deal!
Top Value!

2009 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 2-19-2013
Palmer makes the most sensual of all Bordeaux, and this blend of 51% Merlot and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon will add to their legend. This has so much class and balance that it could easily pass for the first wine. The Alter Ego has sexy, bright Margaux aromatics of currant dusted with chocolate. On the palate it has a velvety texture that is almost perfect now, but will no doubt get even better with time. This great bottle shows incredible focus on the finish- I can’t wait to taste it again when it turns 10!
Drink from 2013 to 2039

2009 de Birot, Côtes de Bordeaux
Review Date: 2-19-2013
Most collectors will clamor for the top wines in this vintage, but the real excitement for me with a vintage like 2009 comes from the everyday priced wines like this. Composed of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, this dark wine has lots of herbal intrigue on the nose and excellent, grain free texture. If you are looking for good, dry red for the table that won’t knock you out with too much alcohol, try out the Birot!
Drink from 2013 to 2019
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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