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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Jacquesson "Cuvée 736" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-17-2013
The Jacquesson Cuvee 736 might be the most pure Champagne that we stock. It is only dosed at 1.5g/l and is very, very dry, with excellent white fruit aromas and flavors. It was a fantastic contrast to the fat, toasty styles that we tasted so many of during our big Champagne team meeting. It does need food, and I would pick this out as being an exceptionally good partner to oysters or other shellfish.

2004 Taittinger "Comtes de Champagne" Brut Blanc de Blancs
Review Date: 8-17-2013
This is one of the greatest tete de cuvee's that Champagne has to offer, and the 2004 is one of the finest examples that I have ever tasted. The Comtes De Champagne from Taittinger delivers every year that it is made, but I think this vintage is a special one for them as this transparent, terroir driven harvest compliments the style of the house perfectly. This is usually one of the richest Blanc De Blancs on offer from the region, and while certainly richer than most 2004's this Comtes defines finesse with its balance of power and delicacy. I hope to taste it many more times over what is sure to be a very long life for this great wine!
Drink from 2013 to 2054

2008 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 8-17-2013
This fantastic vintage Champagne is the first of the 2008's that we have received from a grand marque and a big statement on the quality of this long awaited vintage. The 2008's combine great ripeness with incredible acidity and the Louis Roederer Brut Rose balances these two features of the vintage perfectly. I have had the wine on three occasions already, and the best experience was at Quince, where the wine was paired with royal osetra caviar on brioche with edible flowers and hollandaise. The fine quality red fruit component and electric acidity of the wine was ideal for this great roe. This is subtle rose with a huge future!
Drink from 2013 to 2048

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

Ragnaud Sabourin K&L Exclusive Fontevieille #35 Cognac 750ml
Review Date: 7-30-2013
Tasting the Fontevieille 35 Cognac from Ragnaud Sabourin made me wish for a big fire, a big chair and a big snifter. This mature, old fashioned Cognac has plenty of the rancio character that the big houses reserve for their blends in fancy bottles at 10x the price. I found this expansive, deep and complex Cognac worthy of reflection at the end of the evening. It is a very fine value in top class Cognac!
Price: $169.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Barkala Ridge Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley
Review Date: 7-24-2013
I have been lucky enough to taste this wine twice and it is an exceptional value for the money. The vast continent of Australia has been represented in the past by gigantic, high alcohol reds in the US market, but thanks to the hard work of K&L's Ryan Woodhouse, we are starting to see the rest of the story! Fine wines like this Oakridge Barkala Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley never made it out of the country in the past, but now we have an opportunity to get access to these gems. This Chardonnay has delicacy and finesse on the level with many more expensive white Burgundy's, and those looking for a Chassagne like experience will be very pleased with this medium weight, detailed, long finishing wine from Oakridge!

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.

2011 Domaine Sylvain Langoureau St-Aubin 1er Cru "Bas de Vermarain à l'Est"
Review Date: 7-10-2013
This St. Aubin delivers on the promise of 1er cru with serious concentration and depth. If you are looking for a great bottle for the medium term in the cellar, this outperforms many white Burgundy's at much higher prices. The Sylvain Langoureau Bas De Vermarain A L Est is reserved aromatically now, but has a ton of power on the mid palate without going over the line into fat. The super long finish has just a touch of the butter from the high quality cooperage and promises a lot for the years to come.
Drink from 2015 to 2021
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart BH 89 BC 0

2011 Domaine Anne & Arnaud Goisot Bourgogne Aligoté Vieille Vignes
Review Date: 7-10-2013
I have been a fan of this wine for many years, and yesterday at the staff tasting the 2011 did not disappoint. Just for fun, I had pulled out the 2006 & 2004 from my cellar, and we compared all three. You might not think of ageing inexpensive white like this, but I can promise you that with the Domaine Anne Arnaud Goisot Bourgogne Aligote Vielle Vignes that they not only keep well but gain quite a bit of complexity with time. For drinking right now, this crisp Aligote is perfect, with a little bit of earth on the nose and a whole lot of refreshing liveliness on the palate! Yum!
Top Value! Drink from 2013 to 2021
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2004 Moet & Chandon "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

2006 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 6-22-2013
Every one of us on staff at K&L felt honored to have Cathy Corison here in Redwood City to pour for our customers (and us!) last night. This 2006 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was my favorite of the lineup, and I liked it even better than the extraordinary Kronos wines that were poured. To me, finding Napa Cab that tastes like Napa Cab is becoming more and more difficult since producers are rewarded with big scores for making overripe, sweet wines. This is the opposite style, a dry Cab with the structure and acidity to go with the best dry aged, prime porterhouse that you can get your hands on. It is great to be able to offer a bottle with a little bit of age and plenty of structure instead of something young and overpriced!
Drink from 2013 to 2026

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 6-20-2013
I drank this fantastic Champagne on my birthday on Tomales bay - eating oysters’ right out of the beds where they grew, and I drank it out of magnum with caviar on New Years Eve 2008/2009. This wine is very worthy of the most special occasions despite its reasonable price; it is silky yet bracing, complex yet gulpable - it really has it all. It is a truly affordable luxury!
Top Value!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Absolut Elyx Single Estate Vodka 1L
Review Date: 5-15-2013
The Absolut Elyx Single Estate impressed me with its effortless presence, it seemed to tease me with a hidden flavor or texture, and this hard to describe but easy to appreciate vodka changed the way that I think about the whole category. Since I tasted it yesterday with Mr. Driscoll I have not been able to stop thinking about it! Vodka is not an easy thing for a wine guy to get excited about. It is meant to be flavorless, which seems like a strange goal for something that goes in your mouth. If you have been drinking Grey Goose or Chopin and want to see what one of the world’s top producers of vodka can do when they really put their mind to it, this is bottle is a must.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Zudugarai "Amats" Getariako Txakolina
Review Date: 5-9-2013
This succulent wine made a big impression on me when I tasted it today. Something this refreshing, clean and easy to drink seems like it should come with a warning label that reads: "Caution this wine is easy to get carried away with"! I can imagine pairing it with tapas, or just with a warm summer day. It is fantastic and a great deal!
Top Value!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2002 Thienot "La Vigne aux Gamins" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 4-27-2013
Last night at the Plumed Horse in Saratoga we drank a full 1% of the entire production of the single vineyard Thienot La Vigne Aux Gamins Blanc De Blancs Brut Champagne. The packed room was thrilled to get a chance to enjoy such a rarity with Garance Thienot and I am glad that there is still a little bit of the California allocation left to sell! This spectacular Avize Chardonnay has the exotic fruit that only a very old, well exposed vineyard can give and depth of chalky grip that comes from purest of Belmnita soils. It was a profound pairing with the Alaskan halibut course and it was worth feeling a little less than bright eyed today to drink my share of this great Champagne! Get it while you can- it won't take many more nights like last night to drain all the bottles in the state!
Drink from 2013 to 2042

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