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How one small wine producer is helping other women follow in her footsteps

Dames Brut - ready to pop !
Dames Brut - ready to pop !
Image Credit: Cassandra Anderton

In anticipation of the highly anticipated Garagiste North Small Producers Festival Sunday, August 18th, I will be featuring a lineup of interviews with some of the starring winemakers coming to this year’s fest. This annual event features the small-lot, hard-to-find wineries that are making a huge buzz with their fantastic wines. Award-winning, boutique, and many without yet a tasting room, these are the renegades who are rocking the wine world. Garagiste North offers wine lovers a chance to meet these winemakers and taste their exclusive wines.

One such winemaker is also making wine for a good cause. Les Dames d’Escoffier is an international organization of women who fundraise to support other women achieve their goals and further their education and careers in the food, wine and hospitality industry. The B.C. chapter has supported many local women, and because of our growing wine country, many have benefited to further their wine education.

The B.C. chapter’s current president Mireille Sauvé also happens to be a winemaker and she was able to follow her dream and make wine for Les Dames to sell with profits going back into the organization. She has made a white, a red, a rosé and now, this highly-anticipated sparkling Dames Brut.
Come to the Festival on August 18th and taste for yourself.

Tickets available at

Q & A with Mireille Sauvé:

Q: Tell me about the evolution of Dames Brut. Where did you make the wine?

Mireille Sauve bottling Dames Brut at Sperling Vineyards
Mireille Sauve bottling Dames Brut at Sperling Vineyards

A: The Dames Brut was harvested from Ann Sperling’s certified organic vineyard in Kelowna. It is a blend of 70% Pinot Blanc and 30% Riesling, and instead of relying on conventional processed sugar to initiate the second fermentation in the bottle, I used a German process called ‘sussreserve’ (translates to ‘sweet reserve’), which involves freezing a set amount of grape juice at harvest time and thawing it out to mix with yeast and the still wine when it comes time to bottle. And it worked out great – I achieved an atmospheric pressure of 6.3 bar which is just what I was aiming for!) The wine was bottled in January of 2018 and aged sur-lie for 18 months (bottle ageing on its yeast, imparting the famous “brioche” flavour that Champagne is known for). It went through the riddling process on gyropallets and was disgorged in August of 2019.

Q:  Tell me why you chose to make sparkling?

A: The Dames wine was launched in 2015 as a fundraising project to contribute to Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Scholarship Fund, from which I personally benefitted in 1996 with a scholarship to attend George Brown College, where I later graduated with honours from the Sommelier Diploma program. I released a Dames White and a Dames Red in that first year, followed by a 2016 Dames Rosé. It seemed like a natural progression to have the next wine – the final Dames Wine – be a sparkling wine, which I call Dames Brut. We are going out with a bang!

The Dames
The Dames 'sticker crew' labelling Dames Brut
Image Credit: Cassandra Anderton

3. What has it meant for you to offer Dames wine?

It has been an incredible experience for me. Not only do I get to raise a significant amount of money to support women in B.C.’s Food and Beverage industry (100% of profits from the sales of Dames Wine is donated to this cause), I have also learned so very much along the way – about viticulture, about winemaking, and about the business of selling wine… It has been a busy five years and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Dames Brut label
Dames Brut label
Image Credit: Mireille Sauve

Tasting Notes: Dames Brut

Fine bubbles introduce this Traditional Method Extra Brut sparkling wine. A bread-dough aroma allures with ripe Golden Delicious apples in the wine’s bouquet. Bright citrus flavours include lime zest, grapefruit pith and kumquat. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy with apples and a hint of brioche on the palate. Orange blossoms and bitter apricot linger with a dry finish.

An excellent celebration sparkler, or paired with canapés such as smoked salmon crostini, fresh oysters, virtually any fish… and, well… hot tubs.

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