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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2012 Meli Carignane Maule Valley
Review Date: 3-4-2015
Our Chilean wine buyer Joe smashed so many of my prejudices yesterday that I woke up confused this morning. His biggest triumph over my closed mindedness was this triumphant selection... A Carignane that is a contender for the best red wine in the store at under $15. This is a perfect BBQ wine, spicy, smoky, black fruited. Think of it like Zin, but with more structure and less heat and find some brisket to have with it!
Top Value!

2014 Pipeño Pais "Coronel de Maule" Maule Valley (1.0L)
Review Date: 3-4-2015
After 20+ years in the wine business it is great to find a bottle that is singing a song that I have never heard before... And enjoying it! This old vine Mission wine has the dark, granite infused fruit of a Morgon, the acid and tannic spine of a Roero Nebbiolo and a fun personality that is completely unique. Where are the beef empanadas? I am ready to do some liter drinking!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Familia Zuccardi "Q" Cabernet Sauvignon Gualtallary and La Consulta Valle de Uco
Review Date: 3-4-2015
Our South American buyer Joe blew the staff away yesterday with his stereotype breaking selections! This wonderful Cabernet from Familia Zuccardi is full bodied, but has the magic lift that one rarely finds outside of the Medoc in Bordeaux. It is a powerful, dry wine with excellent cassis flavors and best of all a long, bright, mineral driven finish. The only thing missing is a big Gaucho steak!
Top Value!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Bodegas Sur de los Andes Malbec Reserva Mendoza
Review Date: 3-4-2015
I love wines that prove my prejudices wrong. This generous, spicy, dark fruit style Malbec is soft and easy to drink, but still has enough spine and structure to encourage me to come back for more. At this price, it is an absolute steal... Real wine for a song!
Top Value!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

2002 Pol Roger "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
A lot of tete-de-cuvee Champagne is little more than fancy packaging. The Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill from Pol Roger is the opposite; all substance for Champagne lovers in the know!

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
This is the benchmark in rose Champagne, and it deserves every bit of its fame. I find it elegant and balanced every time that I have it, and the blushing pink color is always perfect. If you are looking for a famous producer that delivers the goods, the Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne is a great choice. I like the wine best as an aperitif, the only thing it need to pair with is a good glass.

Michel Loriot "Theodorine" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
I love drinking Champagne on Tuesdays! I had prepared a merguez tagine with plenty of pimenton ahumado and large pearl cous-cous for dinner, and started to scratch my head over what to pair with it. It was going to be too spicy for anything tannic, yet the lamb in the sausage called out for some red wine flavors... Rose! Rose was the answer. But it is the middle of winter, and all of the still rose is sold! Rose Champagne! Rose Champagne is the answer! The Michel Loriot Rose was perfect, with lots of red wine richness from the 20% Pinot in the blend, but also great snap from the Loriot policy of no malolactic. The very ripe strawberry fruit in this wine was brought into perfect balance by the powerful finish. Try it out the next time you whip up something spicy!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2002 Piper-Heidsieck "Cuvée Rare" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
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 to 2022

Ariston Aspasie Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
Nobody in Champagne works harder on making a great rose than Paul-Vincent Ariston, owner of Champagne Aspasie, and no bottle that we carry is as outstanding of a bargain. Most producers either make a red wine to blend into their white or do a maceration of all the skins for a short time to make rose. Paul does both, as he likes the complexity that the maceration method brings to the wine, and the control that the addition of red wine offers. This isn't just a good deal, it is a Champagne of spectacular depth and character, that is also super easy to drink.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2004 Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
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 to 2024

Krug Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
Chef Fossati of Quattro Restaurant at the Four Seasons was daring and paired the Krug Brut Rosé Champagne with lamb loin from Elysian Fields at the Krug dinner I attended with Krug CEO Margareth Henriquez. This Champagne needed food (and rich food!) in order to show well and was very different from the first Krug rose that I tasted more than a decade ago. My first visit to the maison in winter of 2001 was also my first experience with Krug rose, and its impression has haunted me ever since. The wine I drank in 2001 was so vanishingly subtle, so easy to drink, that its greatness did not occur to me until days later. I still think about that bottle. The bottle we had with the lamb had fresh baked bread and Nuits-St.-George like savor on the nose, and powerhouse black cherry fruit backed with firm acidity on the palate. I much preferred it with the lamb than on its own. This was large-scale wine that Margareth said she loved to cellar.

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
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.

Thienot Brut Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
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

Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 3-3-2015
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: 3-3-2015
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 2015 to 2044

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Gary Westby is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Gary Westby, click here to join Gary Westby's Personal Sommelier Service.
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