Winters in Nebraska can be hard on the soul. I know its worse in other places, colder and longer and even more dangerous. I understand that, I really do, and yet here we are in April, nearing the middle of the month in fact, and there is snow in the forecast yet again. Sonja and I were grumpy with each other yesterday and at one point she reminded me that we’d left eighty degrees and a beach in Florida for… this, suggesting that perhaps our moods are related to the weather. She may be right. It’s cold and gloomy outside, and the good weather when we have it retreats quickly these days. I’ve postponed cement pouring over the cold and am considering using an Uber all weekend due to the impending snow. We haven’t taken a walk in over a month. Worst of all, and this is what I’m leading up to, we tend to hibernate in the winter.
We live in a neighborhood full of front porches that people sit on and neighbors who walk their dogs around the block. We see one another, wave, invite people onto our porch for a glass of wine and a conversation. These are our summers, also our spring and fall a lot of times, and they are glorious. But in the winters, well, we sort of seem to hide. The last time the “Library Club” — our group of friends who chip in to share old bottles of wine, met, the weather was good. We could have met all winter long, yet chose not to, not deliberately, but seemingly in response to the weather and something internal that discouraged us from going outside.
Last night, the Library Club again assembled at my home after a hiatus of many months. The usual suspects were all present, as were some fresh new faces. It was our largest group yet, and so much fun to be together — despite the cold of the outside. In better weather, we might have met in my cellar, but as frigid as it was all weekend long and with snow still lingering in the shaded corners of our yards, we thought the warmth of our wooden and well-lit dining room a more inviting space for an assembly. I put some cheeses and fruits and nuts out, and gradually people began to arrive. We made sure everyone was introduced, and then we got after some truly awesome bottles of wine!
We began with a 2009 Jura white that Mo provided. Funky as all Jura wines tend to be, the oxidized character made it fun to try. We then rolled into the reds. The 1980 Heitz Napa Valley was still vibrant after 38 years, with plenty of fruit remaining — it was an absolute show-stopper. This was the first Library Club we’ve ever held where not a single bottle was flawed, which was an added plus. 1991 The Clos du Bois Cab Sauv and 1990 Fieldstone Cab Sauv, both from Alexander Valley, and the 1987 KJ Durell Vineyard Syrah all showed very well. The 1994 V. Sattui Suzanne’s Vineyard Cab Sauv was the surprise of the night for me, an absolutely elegant, youthful wine that to me was on par with the Heitz. The 1989 Chateau Suiduiraut Sauternes was, perfect, and a great way to finish the evening.
There was a lot of wine talk, sure, but there was also just a lot of talk. I caught up with old friends, learned more about new ones, talked shop with a colleague, tried to hire one of our guests to work for our new distribution company, and got to know a neighbor a little better. It was a warm, fun, spirited environment in which wine somehow again managed to assume a secondary position while we employed our common humanity in myriad topics of conversation. It was all so enjoyable that I was somehow able to forget that outside, it was below freezing and killing the flowers that had begun to bud prematurely last week when the weather seemed to have turned for the better. Wine and humanity: my respite from Nebraska’s erratic climes.
After we had finished, we tidied up, I did a load of dishes, and then retired for the evening feeling satisfied if nearing a state of somnolence. Old wine certainly isn’t a necessary part of life, but it brings people together in my home, and I love it for that. I’m grateful to the old friends who participated last night, and to the new ones who I hope will come back again. We’ll need to get something on the calendar soon. Hopefully we can host the next event in the cellar — or maybe even on the patio.
Cheers to spring arriving, hopefully soon,