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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Glenmorangie 18 year old Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 11-21-2013
If you are a fan of single malt, this whisky should not be overlooked. We tasted this blind at our staff spirits tasting and it impressed me with its sweet and savory nuttiness, rich oily texture and long, polished finish. This is top notch unpeated whisky that will please the connoisseur without alienating the initiated.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Croix Mouton, Bordeaux Supérieur
Review Date: 11-5-2013
The precocious 2011 Croix Mouton has all the virtues of the best Bordeaux Superieur and made me feel like I was in a Paris bistro eating steak frites as soon as I tasted it. This plummy, soft wine is so approachable and fun without being flabby or weak in any way. Bordeaux isn't all expensive, and this bottle is far superior to domestic Merlot blends at this price or even the $20 mark. Yum!

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

2010 Basilio Izquierdo "Acodo" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 10-25-2013
Wow- I have never had white Rioja like this before! On a scale similar to the best white Bordeaux, this complex white is full of lanolin in the mouth and has one of the longest finishes of any wine that I have tasted this year. The Basilio Izquierdo Acodo has persistence that one wouldn't even hope for in a $100 bottle of wine, so if you want something adventurous and exotic, it will not disappoint! What a bottle!
Price: $29.99 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

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

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: Hidden View Price BC 0

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!

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

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.

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

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More Favorites

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