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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Tuesday
Mar222011

Words on Wine: Robert Camuto and Palmento

Robert Camuto will be at K&L RWC on Friday March 25 for a special Sicilian wine tasting that will feature readings of excerpts from his latest novel, Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey.

Join us in welcoming journalist and author Robert Camuto to K&L Redwood City! Camuto, who's on tour for his latest book, Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey, will be stopping by our tasting bar for a for a special evening of words and wine this Friday. Copies of the book will be available for sale, and K&L's Greg St. Clair will be pouring a lineup of Sicilian wines to accompany  Camuto's readings.

Event details:

What: Book Reading and Sicilian Wine Tasting with Robert Camuto

Where: K&L Redwood City

When: Friday, March 25th, 5-6:30 p.m.

Cost of Tasting: $10

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Here is a sneak preview of the lineup:

2009 Graci Quota 600 Etna Bianco

2009 Valle dell'Acate "Il Frappato"

2008 COS "Pithos" Cerasuolo di Vittoria

2006 Curto Nero d'Avola "Eloro"

Frank Cornelissen MunJebel 6 Rosso Etna

2008 Palari Rosso Soprano

2005 Benanti Serra della Contessa

2008 Graci Quota 600 Etna Rosso

2008 Passopisciaro "Chiappe" Sicily IGT

2006 Palari Faro

Robert Camuto

Words on Wine: Q & A with Robert Camuto

K&L: What is your earliest wine related memory?

RC: My earliest wine memory was as a kindergartener opening wine bottles—fiaschi (those squat wine bottles in baskets)-- at dinner in New York City for my Neapolitan grandfather. It was 48 years ago, but I can still smell the sort of rough bouquet as it mixed with scents of grandmother's cooking.
 
You are a journalist by trade, but did not start out writing about food and wine. What drew you to focusing on these topics as well as writing about travel?

Over a career of 30 years I have written about lots of subjects. I started writing about arts, culture and music in the Bay Area after college. I then later wrote about politics in Texas for a number of years, before returning to writing about culture. When I moved to France in 2001, I emphasized travel writing. But the thing that has always interested are people their stories and ideas. The last decade has been a fantastic one to write about people, stories and ideas in wine from Europe.
 
What is so exciting about Sicily as a region and as a travel destination?  How about the wines and their wine culture?

So many places in the world including Italy (and especially Tuscany) have become so commercial or replicas of other places. Yet Sicily is one area of Italy that has kept its soul and traditions intact. The cuisines—influenced by millennia of inhabitants from Greeks to Arabs to French and Spanish--are delicious. The food quality and freshness of produce and seafood is unparalleled. The history and architecture—Baroque, Norman, Greek, prehistoric—is all there. And the people--even when they have little--are some of the most kind and hospitable I have ever met.

As far as wine goes, Sicily is Italy's largest volume producer, but as in many big regions—in the postwar years the push was to produce industrial quantities. Now in the last decade or so, the new generations of winemakers are returning to smaller production and quality. Fifteen years ago there were only about 30 Sicilian producers putting wine in bottles. Now there are about 300. It's exciting because there is a rediscovery of traditional varietals and some fantastic terroirs.

How did researching Palmento differ from your investigative efforts for your previous book, Corkscrewed?

Well for one thing, when I travelled in France for Corkscrewed, if I made an appointment with a winemaker that initial meeting might last two hours. In Sicily some of those initial meetings lasted TWO DAYS!
 
Since wine books tend to be read by a fairly small readership, how do you go about writing in a way that may appeal to a broader audience, or do you?

I try to write about what I am passionate about: people, with compelling stories. In that way they become more than winemakers but like characters in a novel.
 
Any good mafia stories from your time in Sicily?

I spent some time for the book with the Anti Mafia movement around Corleone, known as Libera Terra. The influence of the Mafia has been on the wane in Sicily after the people stood up and said "enough" after the assassinations of the popular prosecutors Falcone and Borselino. Libera Terra is taking old Mafia properties and turning them to social uses to make Libera wine, pasta, and olive oil, etcetera.
 
Sicily is becoming increasingly known as a terrific travel destination.  What would be your ideal one-week itinerary for a Sicilian vacation?

In April I am returning to Sicily with my family to stay on the slopes of Mt. Etna facing the sea: eating and drinking in the vineyards with winemaker friends, hanging out in the local markets in Catania, hiking through the hills and dipping into the sea. To me that's pretty ideal.

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LEARN more about Robert Camuto: Robert V. Camuto 

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SHOP Sicilian wines on KLWines.com

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WATCH the official Palmento Book Trailer on YouTube!

 Chiara Shannon