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Happy Friday! It’s a good day to talk about wine, don’t you think?

About a month ago, I received the opportunity to review VinoVersal wine club, and I of course jumped at the chance. I enjoy wine clubs as a way to make sure our wine fridge is stocked with different wines.

The first wine club tasting parcel featured wines from Salento, Italy, a region I knew nothing about. In addition to six bottles of wine, the parcel comes with a beautiful magazine highlighting the region and connecting the wines and wine region to the recipient.


Isn’t this lovely? I learned that Salento is in the heel of Italy, that it is gorgeous, and that it produces some velvety, lush wines, my favorites being the Pietra Caya Malvasia and the Tenuta Boncore Negroamaro. They were all good though. Tasting notes (from VinoVersal) are at the end of the post. wine club magazine

I got to meet the VinoVersal team and taste all of the wines at the Boston Wine Expo as well, which was great. One of the things I love about travel to wine country is meeting the people behind businesses; wine people are always so nice! While chatting with the team, I learned that someone actually visits each wine region for extensive tasting research (tough job!) and chooses bottles for the parcels. I love the connections that wine brings, and I found it really nice that they wines aren’t just randomly included. These wines were all high quality and introduced me to grapes I never look for.

VinoVersal Wine Club


Would I order it for myself?

Absolutely. At $95 for six hand-selected bottles of wine, including shipping and including the fun and informative magazine, it’s a great deal and a great gift. Wine clubs like this encourage people like me (who tend to gravitate to certain wine regions all the time) to expand the palate and to learn more about the wine world, something I love to do but am not always proactive about.

The wines included in the first tasting parcel are as follows.

Negroamaro Salento

The scent is a powerful impression, rustic but perfumed.  Starting with traces of licorice, figs, and eucalyptus.  The taste is full of dried fruit, sweetness and yet earthy and slightly spiced.  A distinctly acidic, full finish wine.  The color is deep and robust.

Primitivo Salento

With up- front fruit and a blend of dried strawberries, olives, and freshly cut hay this wine has a taste of sweetness from the sun-ripened Primitivo grapes with accents of fig and lavender.  The color is medium but packs a punch for this red.

Primius Primitivo Di Manduria

The nose is typical Primitivo with ripe cherries and chocolate.  This wine is balanced and refreshing.  With only 6 months in oak; don’t lay it down or ponder over it’s possibilities.  “Release the Brakes”  Enjoy this medium color balanced wine.

Pietra Caya

Rustic describes this wine with forest berries and lavender.  A big glass of fruit but delicate velvety selections of acids and tannins.  The color seems medium, but the flavors have depth.

Salice Salentino Riserva

The aroma is inviting with dark chocolate, licorice, caramel, and fig.  The same impression follows thru with balanced acids, tannins and a slight sweetness from some over ripened grapes.  24 months in oak give this wine something to talk about over dinner.

Contrada Del Falco

First impression in the vineyard and the grapes, think cigar box, dark chocolate, a little dust and some ripe stone fruit.  Now taste the broad mix of ripe fresh fruit and sun dried raisins.

VinoVersal provided me with a complimentary parcel for review. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: Italian wine, Italy, wine, wine blog, wine club

Oh happy day! It’s Friday! This has been a week, hasn’t it? It’s been incredibly busy with work, but also with some family fun, dinners out, and time outdoors. When it hit 50, it felt like summer. I for one am completely over this wintry weather and ready for running in shorts and boating season. I suppose we do have some nice, summery evening light though, don’t we? I am anticipating working for most of the weekend, but looking forward to doing so in cozy pajamas, keeping warm and enjoying the quiet of home. I am craving quiet.

Today’s guest post from  Sarah from Dark Rome Tours, is pretty timely, considering the world’s  focus on Rome this week. It covers some lesser-known wine regions of Italy. I only wish I had this post before our last trip to Rome.   While in Italy, I tried to drink wines from the region we were in on each stop, but I knew nothing about the wine region surrounding Rome.

Luckily, we have Sarah to shed some light on these wines.

Rome and the Lazio area are not exactly known for being the greatest in terms of Italian wines, but they do have a particular brilliance with white wines and possibly their most famous wine: Frascati. It is so famous in fact that you can find Frascati Wine Tours consistently. But what other vineyards and wineries could you come across in the capital city area?

vineyards in Italy
The Castelli Romani

Slightly south of Rome you can find the collection of vineyards that often are called the Castelli Romani due to that being the type of wine grape they grow in that area. Many of these wines come with some interesting hints of tastes thanks to the volcanic lakes that surface in the same area and the ways these grapes are often used for their wine. Many of the vineyards in this area do produce the Frascati wine, but a select few also provide other forms of dry and sweet white wines like from the grapes Puntinata and Trebbiano.

The Orvieto Zone

Heading north of Rome you can find the Orvieto area, which provides another selection of white wines, which are not actually Frascati. In fact this area had become famous with its vineyards for some wines named after the zone. The Orvieto Abboccato and the Dolce are probably the most known wines, but they are also produced in such small quantities that if you manage to get some bottles whisked away from the Roman area, you are probably among the few to do so.

Most of the wines they produce are dry with a lack on the sweet, and utilize Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes commonly; however they have some of the most beautiful golden-yellow colors. Surprisingly this area also manages to produce a few red wines that are blended with some of their white grapes.

Italian Wine Tours

The Castle of Marino

Yet another neighbor to the Frascati wines, the hilltop castle town of Marino happens to produce a wine of the town’s name, which utilizes grapes of the Frascati but in a different manner. Due to the other types of crops grown in Marino, this white wine manages to pull in flavors similar to artichokes. It also happens to benefit from the volcanic soil of the area, since it is technically near or sometimes considered in the Castelli Romani.

The greatest spectacle for this town happens to be their grape festival, which has supposedly produced a white wine fountain in the center of town during the festival. It can be one of the most interesting and exciting spots to check out. The Marino wine also happens to hold a slightly sweeter yet also more dry texture than the Frascati, and many people prefer it better due to a greater intensity of flavours that can be found in it.

The Cesanese Comune

The Cesanese wine is probably the most famous actual red wine of the Lazio region. This red wine is also quite sweet due to it generally being blended with a mix of the sweet white wines from the Lazio region. This wine happens to be one of the best to have with most normal Roman foods, due to it going well as a pairing to anything with tomatoes in it. This is why the Cesanese wine has managed to obtain the name around Roman locals for being the ‘King of Wines’. The Cesanese is actually grown in a couple of different places across Italy, but usually produced in the Lazio area, and best done there because of the soil and sweet wine grape combinations added to it.

The berries of the Cesanese in the Lazio area happen to come at a rather large size, almost akin to normal edible grapes. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that this Red wine actually manages to maintain a fruity yet spicy smell and taste.

Do not fret if you don’t manage to find a wine suited to your tastes in the Roman area, because they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the vast amount of Italian wines available. If you don’t enjoy the wines you find from a simple wine tasting of the region, then you can always move further into the areas of Italy that are more known for having some wonderful choices for the most exquisite wines.

Sarah Murphy has worked in Dublin for the last two years as a blogger, web content manager and marketing coordinator. A journalist by training and travel junkie by nature, she regularly travels to Italy for both business and to experience some of the Rome tours where she mostly spends her time in search of the perfect gelato.

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Tags: guest post, Italy, tours, Travel, wine, wine tours

Making Olive Oil

We may never be able to eat regular old olive oil ever again. Between the beautiful oil sent to me by Frances Mayes from her Bramasole Olive Oil Convivium and the freshly pressed, fruity oil we enjoyed visiting family in Italy, we have definitely been enjoying some of the best oil I have ever had. I’ve even been taking two tablespoons of olive oil every morning; it’s said to do all sorts of things including making the skin glow, cleansing the body, and helping to prevent illness.

After our amazing visit to Masciarelli, we headed home to have lunch and play time with our nephews. When my sister-in-law arrived home from work, we all piled in the car and went for a drive, ending up at the facility where their family makes the oil we were enjoying all week.


It may have been the evening, but the olive oil facility was full of activity. Giant crates of olives were being transported in, and people from all over the valley were there using their own olives to make family olive oil.

olive oil production

It was fun to see the process from start to finish. Here, the olives are being separated from the branches and leaves.


Massive stone wheels ground the olives into a paste. That’s some olive tapenade right there!

olive oil press

The olive paste was then spread into thin layers that were stacked in a press, as seen below.

Olive oil press

At that point, you could really see the olive oil coming into its own. The smells in the facility were incredible! I wish I could have just filled a big jug to bring back to Boston.

making olive oil

The process of making olive oil was definitely a fun one to witness, and it was even more special because it was at the place where our family has made their oil for a long time.

We went home and had another amazing dinner which included olive oil, of course. This time around, we sampled an oil that my sister-in-law’s mother had infused with hot peppers. It was amazing and something I definitely plan on trying soon.

I’m officially ready to go to Italy again. . . or to Sonoma or somewhere that’s not dealing with single digit temperatures! Do you have any travel planned in the near future?

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Tags: family, Food, Italy, olive oil, Travel

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