As we come to the end of September, a month that commemorates the South African sparkling wine, the “Cap Classique”, we take a moment to connect with Megan of Domaine des Dieux, the first Cap Classique Producer that we very proudly represent at Message In A Bottle.
Thinking back to how we first stumbled upon Domaine Des Dieux brings fond memories. It was a discovery journey that first started by mistake during our honeymoon when we were taken the “wrong way” by GPS through the famous Hemel-en-Aarde route, and spanned till the end of our holiday, just after getting married, when we returned to the Hemel-en-Aarde route to go vineyard hoping with the Momster (my mother who I’ve taken the liberty to refer to as Momster).
Alas, that’s a story for another day. Today, we shine the spotlight on the winery and hear from Megan, the daughter and second generation owner of the farm to hear from her what makes Domaine Des Dieux unique, where they get their inspiration from, why all the names of their Cap Classiques have female names.
Enjoy the read!
MIAB: Tell us a little about how the farm started and why it was decided that Cap Classiques would be your focus?
Megan: I think it was one of those “right time, right place” situations that led to the starting of the farm. My mom, Sharon, and her good friend was doing an evaluation of the South African wine industry and had been to Hemel-en-Aarde and thought it was such a beautiful area. While in conversation with one of the Producers, she commented how wonderful it would be to own a piece of land in the region and that led to her being introduced to a farmer who was possibly looking to sell some land. It took a while but the farmer came back to Sharon to let her know that he was willing to sub-divide a small piece of land for her to purchase. That’s how the farm started!
We thought we’d focus on Cap Classiques because Hemel-en-Aarde is known for how well the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit grows there. Also, with its maritime influence and the cool-climate expression of wines that come from this area, it felt like the most natural fit that the farm would be able to produce incredible Cap Classiques.
If we look at the iconic Champagnes of the world; high acidity sparkling wines with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blends, it was reflective of what we could get from this region. Since we very much love Champagne, we took a lot of inspiration from the level of quality that is achieved in Champagne.
We never try to replicate Champagne, but we take a huge amount of inspiration from the production method and from the family growers from there. That’s why we decided to focus on the Cap Classique in Hemel-en-Aarde.
MIAB. Sharon has shared that she took a lot of her inspiration for your wines from France. As a 2nd generation owner of the farm, what inspires you?
Megan: I also take great inspiration from France and Europe. We make a trip every 2-3 years down to meet with other growers, exchange insights and be inspired by.
At the same time, I’m also very inspired by the developments in South Africa. It’s an exciting time to be a Cap Classique Producer – there has been much developments over the last 5 years and there are a lot of high quality Cap Classiques being made these days.
I also draw a lot of inspiration from the farm. It is only 21 years old, it’s still very early in the journey of a farm. I want to make the best what the farm and the land can offer.
MIAB: Why do all your Cap Classiques have names of females? Is this meant to be a nod to female empowerment?
Megan: All the Cap Classiques are named after women in our family. The Cap Classique is a very elegant wine and we hope in the same way, the beauty of women is reflected in these wines.
The names also take their inspiration from Sharon’s experience of having worked predominantly in an very male centric environment. Because of this, she’s strived to give females more empowerment.
MIAB: How often do you drink your own wines and what are your favourite pairings?
Megan: We like to drink a variety. For Cap Classiques, we often drink our own. We do have a couple of other favourites too, but… often our own! The Claudia pairs beautifully with prawn sesame toast and soy dipping, whereas the Sharon has the most versatility for food pairings!
I think it is easy to see how the Cap Classiques from Domaine Des Dieux take a lot of inspiration of quality and taste from Champagne, but it is also easy to understand how much personality each of their wines have upon tasting them.
Since Megan and I connected, we heard the news about Domaine Des Dieux's wines receiving the best brut blend at the 22nd Amorim Cap Classique challenge, making them a 5 time winner of this accolade in the space of 9 years. Their Claudia 2017 is following the lineage of the 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2016 past winners. We're working with Megan right now to bring in the full range of winning vintages, but in the meantime, we have the winning 2016 vintage available for purchase here.
Happy exploring the Cap Classique!