Open a bottle of Les Dames Wine and you’ll be doing more than just twisting the cap on a decent drop.You’ll be helping a good cause.
These well made wines are part of a fundraising project for women working in BC’s food and beverage industries. Proceeds go towards Les Dames’ d’Escoffier’s scholarship fund, which helps women move onwards and upwards in their hospitality, food and other related careers.
‘Les Dames’ is a society of professional woman, with chapters across the continent and around the world. I reckon the BC chapter is probably one of the more dynamic groups, who work pretty tirelessly for their cause.
The idea to make the wines came from Les Dames member Mireille Sauvé. Thanks, in part, to help from a Les Dames’ scholarship back in the 90s, she became Canada’s youngest female sommelier. Sauvé went on to establish her successful wine education and marketing consultancy, The Wine Umbrella.
Currently Les Dames gives out $24,000 annually in scholarships to BC woman. Sauvé says she hopes to be able to double that figure through the sale of Les Dames wines.
A true hands-on kind of person, she’s put in more than a few kms. between Vancouver and the Okanagan over the past couple of years. There was no shortage of challenges in getting these wines to market. They ranged from second guessing forest fires to a last minute, no show mobile bottling line. That happened right before eight ‘Dames’ were due to be on hand for a bottling blitz weekend.
“Those 2015 fires played havoc with my varietal plans,” says Sauvé.
“I had planned on a dry, aromatic blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. But when I visited the vineyards to sample the grapes, the smoke was as thick as pea soup. I started to imagine what campfire flavours would taste like in a crisp, tropical blend and thought “blech”!”
It was back to the old drawing board, at the eleventh hour. Sauvé started in on trials of benchmark varietals. She settled “on a blend with high minerality, inspired by the delicious Rieslings on Germany’s Mosel Valley.”
With grapes sourced from vineyards throughout the Okanagan, the wines were made at Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls.
I first tasted them at this year’s Garagiste tasting in Vancouver, before they were bottled. The wines have now had some time to settle, and they’re showing nicely. They’re made in a style that invites easy drinking and plenty of food pairing possibilities.
Les Dames White 2015
Pinot Blanc (80%), Riesling (10%) and Gewurz (10%). Fruity but dry with tropical and orchard fruits on top followed by a nicely balanced zesty mid palate, with juicy acidity and a clean finish. 89 pts. $25.
Les Dames Red 2013
I really like this red (70% Merlot, 30% Syrah, organic grapes) which Sauvé describes as a ‘fireplace’ wine. It’s medium bodied with lovely red berries up front, mulberry and some spice on the plush and plummy palate with a gently savoury edge and easy tannins. It’s not too heavy, which makes it very food friendly, or just plain quaffable. 90 pts. $25
Sauvé is currently working on Les Dames’ next vintage. The 2016 wine will be a rosé made from Okanagan Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc.
She says the wines will never be the same blends from one vintage to the next—although the quality will be consistent.
“My primary goal is to build awareness of the contributions that women make to our wine industry.”
And help pay for a whole lot more scholarships while she’s at it.