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 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 Moet & Chandon "Cuvée 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!

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!

Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 2-20-2013
David Driscoll treated us to three flights of blind whisky in our last staff tasting. This was my favorite of the under $50 flight, and I was surprised to see it was the Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve that I had liked the best of the big producers. Nothing beats putting a brown bag over some bottles to make one more objective! The whisky had a light gold color, and a bright nose of lively malt and sweet vanilla. On the palate it was delicate, well balanced and super easy to drink. Don't count this out without trying it!
Top Value!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart WE 91 BC 0

2002 Lanson "Gold Label" Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-19-2013
This is serious vintage Champagne from one of historic houses in Reims. Lanson never allows their wines to go through malolactic fermentation, and this exceptionally young and fresh wine shows what a good call that can be when you have the patience to cellar your Champagne. The nose is full of high quality candied cherry from the top notch Pinot Noir that makes up half the blend and palate is full of Meyer lemon zing from the top notch Chardonnay that makes up the other. The finish is very long and chalky- I can't recommend this highly enough!
Drink from 2013 to 2022

2009 Gigault "Cuvée Viva" Premières, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
Review Date: 2-19-2013
It is a rare treat to have the owner of a Chateau in Bordeaux pouring his wines for you in Redwood City, and we enjoyed every minute of our time with Mr. Christophe Rebaul at last Saturdays tasting and every sip of his 2009 Gigault "Cuvée Viva" Premières Côtes de Blaye. This cheerful, easy to drink blend of 99% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon was plump and full of cinnamon and carob flavors. Rich, sweet fruited wines like this are fantastic to drink now and blow the notion of all Bordeaux being expensive out of the water.

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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