November 2023 Club Release
Raise a Glass
72% Chardonnay, Ancient Lakes AVA, Washington
25% Xarel-lo/Macabeo, Alt Penedés DO, Spain
3% Syrah, Ancient Lakes AVA, Washington
This sparkling wine is crafted by master sparkling winemaker Laurent Gruet in the classical Méthode Champenoise, which means the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle rather than in a tank. We left this sparkling wine on the lees for 18 months before dosage, then bottled it to preserve the naturally achieved effervescence.
90% Viura, Campo de Borja DO, Spain
10% Muscat, Campo de Borja DO, Spain
The grapes for this wine come from 40-year-old head-pruned vines in Campo de Borja, Spain. This region produces some of the most complex aromas we have found in this native Spanish grape.
Viñedos Masroig, Montsant DO, Spain
J & J Shinn Ranch, Mule Plain Vineyard, Lodi, CA
Viñedos Espelt, Emporda, Spain
Viñedos Masroig, Montsant DO, Spain
The Cariñena grapes in this vintage come from 75-year-old Spanish vines that produce fewer clusters, resulting in richer, more complex flavors. The Montsant area is also known for its dry, cool wind, called “el cierzo,” that blows from the north most of the year. It keeps the humidity low in that region, which lends unique characteristics to the grapes.
Tempranillo Black 2020
75% Tempranillo, Campo de Borja DO, Spain
23% Garnacha, Campo de Borja DO, Spain
2% Monastrell, Central Coast AVA, CA
Temprano is Spanish for early, and this grape gets its name because it ripens on the vine much earlier than other red grape varieties in Spain. The cooler hilltops of Campo de Borja allow the Tempranillo grapes to achieve their legendary complex fruit profile and fine tannin structure. This wine was aged in concrete tanks, creating a smooth mouthfeel similar to aging in oak but also fostering a more intense color and purer fruit flavors.
Tempranillo Gold 2020
45% Tempranillo, Campo de Borja DO, Spain
25% Tempranillo, Central Valley AVA, CA
20% Garnacha, Montsant DO, Spain
5% Mencia, Montsant DO, Spain
3% Cariñena, Montsant DO, Spain
1% Syrah, Montsant DO, Spain
0.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Montsant DO, Spain
0.5% Merlot, Montsant DO, Spain
Our winemakers are expert blenders, and this is one of their most masterful blends, incorporating 8 different grape varieties. Before blending, we fermented each grape varietal separately in stainless steel tanks to enhance their fruit flavors and colors. Once blended, we aged the wine in French oak barrels for 14 months.
80% Mencía, Bierzo DO, Spain
15% Garnacha, Montsant DO, Spain
5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Montsant DO, Spain
We’re excited to welcome Mencía into the VARA collection as it is not a widely grown grape, with less than a dozen producers in the USA. Grown primarily in Spain (~22,000 acres) and Portugal (~6,200 acres), the first California grapes (only 520 vines) were planted in 2015 and harvested in 2017. Our vintage underwent complete malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks to smooth any bitter acids before our winemakers blended it with Garnacha to enhance the fruit flavors and Cabernet Sauvignon for additional tannic structure. This wine was aged for 25 months in 100% neutral French oak to allow only the unique properties of the Mencía grape to flourish.
VARA “if you know, you know” tip
We’ve got a secret. We made it easy to tell whether your favorite VARA wine contains grapes primarily from Spain or from the USA. Take a look at the side of the label. If you see a crown on the label, it’s a Spanish wine. But if you see a star, that means the grapes are primarily from the USA. Combine the star and crown together, and you’ve got our logo.
Pair It Up
This club release is all about celebrating both the everyday and special occasions. Celebrations are fun, so we wanted to play with our pairing suggestions. You’ll find a selection of traditional, fun, and New Mexico pairings for each of our wines over on the website, but we’ve shared one here for each wine. Click the QR code to see all our pairing suggestions.
Feel free to mix it up. Or break all the rules and drink our wines with whatever you like.
Our signature sparkling wine pairs very well with seafood or fried food because of its bright acidic notes.
Traditional: Seafood all day! Oysters, something a little gritty like clams, scallops
Fun/unexpected: Panzanella salad, macaroni and cheese, salty snacks like popcorn, original Chex Mix, or potato chips, fried oyster po’boy with gremolata
New Mexico: carnitas nachos, green chile cheeseburger
This wine is an easy drinker that pairs well with most everything, especially foods with a bit of spice or flavors that let its acidity shine through. Or pair it with nothing at all.
Traditional: anything with a white sauce like a Mornay, scallops, a chicken po’boy sandwich, winter salads like shaved fennel with citrus, light cod with a butter sauce, seared sweet & spicy pork belly
Fun/unexpected: green chile Philly sandwich, spinach artichoke dip, Thai dishes like Tom Kha or crab curry, crawfish boil, watermelon poke
New Mexico: green chile chicken enchiladas, chile relleno
Spicier and more red fruit-forward than a Pinot Noir, our Cariñena is like Pinot’s cooler, more worldly big sister. This wine is food-friendly and a great way to add fun to your next cookout or gathering.
Traditional: Thanksgiving dinner with turkey or ham, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, red pastas, pork with a red-based demi-glacé, stuffed bacon and tomato jam burger with blue cheese
Fun/unexpected: instant ramen doctored with additional Asian flavors and an egg, cherry pie, corn dogs, pizza, backyard BBQ
New Mexico: green chile stew, tamales
Tempranillo Black & Gold
We recommend pairing the Gold with your holiday dinner and the Black with your leftovers. Think Thanksgiving dinner versus the sandwich with leftovers you make the next day. Or the prime rib dinner versus the steak sandwich two days later.
Traditional: For the Gold, slow roast brisket, a nice pork chop; our Black label is an easy drinker that pairs well with most dishes and is perfect for your weeknight dinner; with the Gold, serve a roulade of beef, caramelized mushrooms, and smoked Gouda, then use that same roulade as a chopped sandwich topped with raclette and au jus paired with the Black
Fun/unexpected: loaded french fries, pretzel combos with cheese, lamb gyros, french onion soup
New Mexico: red chile beef jerky, carne adovada (Gold), stuffed sopapilla with carne adovada (Black), posole
Mencía is a hefty wine and needs something bold and hefty to go with it. It pairs well with foods that have a citric note.
Traditional: bone-in ribeye, big, charcoal-grilled meats, BBQ with a vinegary sauce, shepherd’s pie, grilled cedar-plank salmon with red roasted potatoes and romesco or Béarnaise sauce
Fun/unexpected: rich onion dip with toasted baguette, dark chocolate cherries, chicharrones
New Mexico: carne adovada, mashed potatoes with red chile gravy
Additional Pairing Tips
We shared our wine experts’ top things to consider when pairing wine. But there are other things they think about when pairing. Here are some additional pairing tips:
How flavorful is your food?
You don’t want your wine and food to overpower each other. Pair more flavorful foods with richer, full-bodied wines. Lighter fare typically pairs well with lighter wines.
Is the wine full or light-bodied?
The body of a wine refers to the weight it has on the palate. Full-bodied wines are rounder and more intense in flavor, while lighter-bodied wines are delicate and light. An easy way to think of the body of a wine is the different fat levels of milk and how they feel in your mouth. Skim, 2%, and whole correspond to light, medium, and full-bodied wines.
Lighter-bodied wines tend to have lower alcohol, higher acidity, and less tannins. Full-bodied wines tend to have higher alcohol levels, less acidity, and more tannins.
Different factors affect the body of your wine. Environment and climate play a part, especially whether a grape was able to ripen fully before harvesting. Warmer weather means riper fruit with more sugar available to ferment, leading to higher alcohol wines with more body. The same grape grown in cold or hot climates will bring different levels of body, with warmer climates producing fuller-bodied wines. Higher alcohol means more body. Wines with alcohol levels above 14% are more full-bodied than those with less than 14%. Aging plays a role in the body as well. Wines aged in oak are fuller-bodied than those aged in stainless steel.
Make the right music by pairing the right notes
Think about the notes in a wine and what would complement those notes. Similar notes in food pair well with similar notes in wine.
Find your balance
It’s all about creating balance while also playing with similarities. Try to find a balance in your pairings so the wine and the food balance out each other in a complementary way. It can also be fun to play with similarities in pairings as a way to enhance certain notes in wine and food with different results.
What grows together goes together
If the foods you’re pairing come from similar regions as the grapes in your wine, they will typically play well together. For example, grapes from Spain and California pair well with foods with a Spanish flair, California cuisine, and other global cuisines such as Thai, Vietnamese, and even Mexican. They also play well with many New Mexican favorites.