Full disclosure, I’m not a Christmas person. Situations or observances that come packaged with emotional mandates put my teeth on edge. I might well be joyful, happy, at peace with the world, etc. etc. but being expected to feel that way on a particular day pretty much guarantees the opposite.
We spent most of Christmas day driving through unprepossessing satellite towns, looping around a city we were saving for another day.
When we got home, the only thing on the wine rack/fridge shelf that looked right was the Felix des Lys Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) Grand Cru I brought back from a recent trip to Burgundy.
It was purchased in a Christmas market outside the almost comically ornate cathedral in Bourges. Bundled French families steered through stalls shilling jewelry, scarves, roast chestnuts and jars of meat.
The Champagne stall belonged to husband and wife team Felix and Dominique, fifth generation winemakers. Felix talked and poured, Dominique took payments and bagged bottles. He was voluble and gracious; I understood about one word in 50. We tried reserves, roses and this Blanc de Blancs.
Ten days later, my husband and I sat in our living room, wearing a charcoal fleece blanket as a lap robe, and drank it from gold-rimmed glasses from a second-hand shop in A Coruna.
The bubbles were dandelion-fluff, the palate apple-crisp with a hint of butter crust. It felt anti-occasion to drink it in leggings and a hoodie. It also felt just right.
Here’s to indulgence rubbing shoulders with indigence. Here’s to scrappy, stitched-together lives. Here’s to love if you want it, but no rules about how you have to feel, or when.
According to the Felix des Lys website, ‘Félix and Dominique, owners of the Félix Des Lys Champagne house, have been winegrowers for five generations and have Champagne hillsides in three regions and four municipalities. Thus, our Blanc de Blancs cuvée comes from Chardonnay growing in Mesnil-sur-Oger, in the Côte des Blancs, and bears the name “Grand Cru”.’
Cheers, Felix and Dominique. Your cold day at a provincial Christmas market made for real holiday spirit.