Posts tagged ‘Barbaresco’

Nov 16, 2012 to Nov 18, 2012

 

 

2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Heirloom Compagni Portis – $24.00

 

My comments

This wine is a field blend consisting of about a dozen different varietals from a vineyard planted in 1954.  This is how wines used to be made before people wanted to see a specific grape on the label.

 

I joined the Bedrock mailing list to get my hands on their red wines, but with every bottle of white wine I open, I am more convinced they are making some of the best white wines coming out of California.

 

Winery history

In 2009 I took this vineyard not really knowing what to expect.  Yes, I had tried the excellent wines made by my friend Will Bucklin, and  yes, I was besotted (as I often am by plants from California’s viticultural antiquity) with the nearly 60-year-old, dry-farmed, vines of varieties of many different hues and shades:  However, I was not expecting to fall in love.  For me, the odd combination of field-blended whites yields a wine that offers a glimpse at the white wines of yore in California.  Rose, lychee, and spice come from the Gewurtzraminer, while brightness and enough backbone are given by the Trousseau Gris, Riesling, Berger, Green Hungarian, and whatever else is out there.  For me it has exactly what I am looking for when it comes to an heirloom wine — it is a sporadic, seemingly random, assemblage of varieties that can only be found together here in California’s oldest vineyards and makes a wine more indicative of place than variety, spacing, farming, or anything else.   That said, farming is important, and this winter I decided, as many men do when their emotions get in the way of their better senses, to lavish the vineyard with some viticultural bling.  Decades of minimal farming (and who can farm when getting $1200 a ton!) had rendered a vineyard full of blackberries and poison oak, dead vine limbs fraught with eutypa and bot canker, missing vine positions, and limited vigor.  This winter vineyard manager Phil Coturri, the Compagni Portis family, and I, started a rejuvenation project.  Gone are the blackberries and poison oak stealing the vines water and causing pricks and rashes.  A pyre of the fungus ridden vine arms slowly killing the plants was set ablaze.  In their stead are a set of new wires, a full conversion to cane pruning to increase the number of spur positions and potential clusters (I love concentrated fruit but .9 tons per acre is simply economically unsustainable), and in the fall the first set of cover crops will be put down to add nutrients back to soil and increase friability and tilth.  What does this mean?  It means that Bedrock dropped some serious coin, but that we have taken the first step in making sure the vineyard will be around for another sixty years.  I say this as preamble to the raise in price from $20 to $24 dollars per bottle for the wine so you will know that I am not simply trying to line my pockets — in reality, selling all six barrels of the wine at this new price will only pay for half of the improvements.  Rather, I am hoping you will be willing to join me in preserving this one-of-a-kind vineyard from a bygone age.  As for the winemaking, this is a vineyard where I believe simplicity is key.  The wine was whole-cluster pressed and then fermented in stainless-steel and neutral oak barrels with native yeasts.  The richness of fruit and spice in 2010 prompted me to halt malolactic conversion to retain brightness to leaven the opulence of the fruit.  I am unquestionably pleased with the results.  Six barrels produced.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright golden yellow color.  The wine has an outstanding nose with beeswax, fresh flowers, peaches, apples, pineapple, flint, stony minerals, and spices.  This has light to medium body with crisp acidity.  On the palate the wine displays layers of fruit and spice with some nice minerality in the background adding considerable depth.  There is a long, lingering, flavor filled finish.  This is an outstanding effort and a big bargain at $24.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

2006 Shafer Relentless – $42.74

 

My comments

I decided to open a Relentless to honor the fact the 2008 vintage of this wine was named Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year.  I had a bottle about a year and a half ago just to check it out before giving it some cellar time.  I’ll probably open a bottle every year and a half over the next several years.

 

Winery history

Shafer Vineyards traces its beginnings to 1972 when John Shafer left a 23-year career in the publishing industry and, with his family, moved to the NapaValley to pursue a second career in wine.  After purchasing a 210-acre estate in NapaValley’s Stags Leap District, the Shafer family faced the arduous task of replanting the existing vineyards, which dated to the 1920s, and terracing the steep and rocky hillsides, eventually expanding vineyard acreage to its current 50 acres.

 

Evolving from grape growers to vintners, the Shafers crushed their first Cabernet grapes in 1978 and began construction on their winery a year later.

 

The first Shafer Cabernet became a benchmark, winning the acclaimed San Francisco Vintners Club taste-off upon release and, over a decade later taking first place in an international blind tasting held in Germany, where it outranked such wines as Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Chateau Palmer.

 

Doug Shafer became winemaker in 1983 after graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in enology and viticulture.  A year later Elias Fernandez joined the winery as assistant winemaker.  Together Doug and Elias have worked closely to forge the Shafer style of quality, consistency and elegance.

 

New vineyards have been added over the years, with acreage acquired in the Oak Knoll, Stags Leap and Carneros districts, bringing the total Shafer vineyard acreage to over 200 acres.  Winery facilities have been expanded and extensive caves carved into the hillside for aging wine.

 

In 1994, Elias was appointed winemaker, and Doug took over the reins as president when John became chairman of the board.

 

From a modest beginning of 1,000 cases in 1978, the winery has grown steadily until reaching its present size of 32,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah.  Today Shafer wines are available in major markets nationwide and in many foreign markets.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, inky purple color.  The exotic and enticing nose has blackberries, fresh ground dark roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate, melted licorice, black pepper, smoke, black cherries, tar, and violets.  This is full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate there are layers of fruit and savory elements that thoroughly coat your  mouth.  The finish is fairly long and again is loaded with flavor.  Not a lot of subtlety here, just massive amounts of flavor, that are held in check by the outstanding tannic backbone and acidity.  (93 pts)

 

 

 

2005 Meritxell Palleja Priorat Nita – $16.74

 

My comments

I’ve been a big fan of the rugged, rough and tumble wines coming out of the Priorat for a number of years.  Generally these are not fruit forward wines, in a lot of cases they aren’t even fruit driven.  These are generally loaded with spice, dried herbs, minerals, and earthy elements.

 

Winery history

Following the family tradition, Meritxell Pallejà started off in the world of viticulture by studying oenology and assisting at wineries both in the region (Vilella de la Cartoixa, the Cooperativa Agrícola de Capçanes and Álvaro Palacios) and also in the Napa Valley and the French Burgundy (on that occasion at a biodynamic winery that would influence her own way of working).  NITA is her first wine (brought out in 2004 and called Cal Nita, named after her grandmother’s house in Falset).  It saw the beginnings of her biodynamic project that takes into account the lunar calendar not only in the production process but also in recommending the most opportune moment for drinking the wine.

 

The lunar calendar shows the relationship between various activities, such as the grape harvest, racking, bottling and even trying and tasting the wine, and the differing positions of the sun, planets, constellations and signs of the zodiac.  This means that it can be ascertained when wines are at a more or less active stage (a waxing or waning moon) or how a plant’s general health is being affected, which will come through in changes to colour, potency of aromas, flavours and essential properties.  For example, the wine will display its floral and fruity attributes to better effect if we drink it on “flower” or “fruit” days on the lunar calendar, and that is precisely when Meritxell suggests we open a bottle of her Nita.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a ruby red color, much lighter at the edge.  The old school nose features crushed rocks, blackberries, scorched earth, dried herbs, licorice, leather, tobacco, underbrush, and dried flowers.  This has medium body with sold tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate the initial fruitiness is quickly brushed out of the way by solid minerality, dried herbs, and earthy elements.  The long finish leans on the savory elements with the fruit in the background.  The finish is like a mouthful of crushed stones and dried herbs with one solitary blackberry providing some sweetness.  This is still on the young side but if you don’t mind solid tannins, it’s in a great place right now.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

2004 Adriano Marco e Vittorio Barbaresco Basarin – $34.80

 

My comments

I’ve had three bottles of this wine in the cellar for close to 4 years.  Every time I check my inventory for an Italian wine, this is the first wine I see, since my inventory is sorted in alphabetical order on the wine name.  It’s probably still on the young side, but it’s time to check in to see how the wine is coming along.

 

Winery history

The Azienda Agricola Adriano Marco e Vittorio farm is located in the heart of the Langhe, at Frazione San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, over the beautiful Alba, producing wines with the unique characteristics of the territory. It is a family run company, who has been producing wine from its own grapes for generations. At the beginning of the 20th century, Giuseppe, the grandfather, who was share-farmer, started his activity of growing grapes. Later on, he purchased a small farm and together with his son Aldo, expanded the family property planting new vines. The grandsons, Marco e Vittorio, continued this expansion, introducing big changes as the wine-making and the bottling of their own production. The farm has currently an extension of 22 hectares of vineyards of NEBBIOLO for BARBARESCO, BARBERA, DOLCETTO, FREISA, SAUVIGNON and MOSCATO; 8 hectares are dedicated to the hazelnuts, typical from the Langhe region and 10 hectares are divided in meadows, fallow land and forests where the famous White Truffle from Alba can be found.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The very enticing nose has cherries, earthy underbrush, baking spices, fresh ground espresso, dark chocolate, dried herbs, and fresh flowers.  This had medium body with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the earthy, savory notes command center stage with dried herbs and fruit on the sidelines.  The finish has nice length and again highlights the savory elements.  This is still very young but tasty.  (90 pts)

 

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

Getting a few random offers with Holiday offers, mainly for wines I either already have or passed on earlier.

 

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

It was a busy receiving week.

 

From Garagiste

(6) 2005 Frenchman Hills Red Wine Sentinel Gap Vineyards

(6) 2001 Weinhofgut Anton Zimmermann Bernkastel-Kueser Weisenstein Riesling Auslese

(6) 1998 Weinhofgut Anton Zimmermann Bernkastel-Kueser Weisenstein Riesling Auslese

(3) 2010 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage

 

From Loring

(4) 2011 LoringWineCompanyPinotNoirRussianRiverValley

(4) 2011 Loring Wine Company Pinot NoirSantaLuciaHighlands

(4) 2011 LoringWineCompanyPinotNoirStaRitaHills

(3) 2011 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Rosella’s Vineyard

(3) 2011 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard (375 ml)

(6) 2011 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard (375 ml)

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Sept 21, 2012 to Sept 23, 2012

 

 

 

 

1994 Schloss Schönborn Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese – $16.99

 

My comments

I returned home from a business trip today.  It was 80 and sunny in North Carolina, it is currently a cold and damp 52 here in Wisconsin.  It sounds like a perfect day for some Seafood Gumbo.  We make ours a touch spicy so a nice, off dry Riesling usually is a perfect match.  We drank through just about all of the cases of older Riesling I bought from Garagiste Wine a few years ago, but this is from that stash.  Luckily I have 3 more cases of older German Rieslings that will be shipping in the next few weeks so I’ll be able to restock the cellar.

 

Winery history

Located in the heart of the Rheingau valley, the Domänenweingut Schloss Schönborn has long stood for premium wine culture.  Many of the vineyards along the slopes bordering the Rhine river have been part of the Schönborn family estate since 1349, which has been added to continuously since then. Several top sites were acquired in the 17th and 18th centuries, giving the estate a real boost. The estate now covers 50 ha, of which 90% are planted with Riesling. The remaining vineyards feature Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The Schloss Schönborn wine estate is one of the founder members of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates (VDP) and has for many years been managing its valuable vineyards in tune with nature.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a very nice looking golden yellow color.  There is petrol, apples, stony minerality, white peaches, white pepper, and orange zest on the enticing nose.   This is light to medium body with zippy acidity.  Luscious, juicy fruit and minerals on the palate with nice citrus notes adding depth.  The finish is full of fruit and citrus but only decent length.  The sweetness is fully integrated so this is not longer a sugary sweet wine, it seemed more off dry.  Not as rich and powerful as some of the older German Rieslings I’ve had, but still very enjoyable.  (90 pts)

 

 

 

We had some Seafood Gumbo to pair with the Riesling.  The Gumbo was fairly spicy with bay scallops, salad shrimp, lump crabmeat, and a ton of fresh okra from my father in law’s garden in South Carolina.  I absolutely love an aged Riesling and a spicy gumbo, to me it’s a perfect pairing.  Definitely opposites attract with hot versus cold and spicy versus sweet.  It was a delicious meal and now I can have some leftover gumbo for lunch next week and enjoy a glass of the Riesling while relaxing.  Life is good!

 

 

 

My wife had some nice bottles this week while I was traveling.  These are all 375ml half bottles that were on the counter to greet me when I got home.  The wines were a 2007 Novy Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah, 2009 Loring Clos Pepe Pinot Noir, and a 2006 Scherrer Alexander Valley Old and Mature Vines Zinfandel.

 

 

 

2009 Brassfield Estate Winery Eruption Volcano Ridge – $14.24

 

My Comments

This is a blend of 37% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 10% Petite Sirah and 9% Malbec, from the High Valley AVA in the eastern part of LakeCounty in California.  I took a flier on a couple of bottles a few months ago at the local wine store.  We opened one that night and thought enough to grab six more bottles ASAP.  This was made from obviously very ripe grapes, but showed no raisin or syrupy notes.  I’m looking forward to trying it again.

 

Winery History

Brassfield Estate Winery & Vineyard is located in the western section of HighValley at High Serenity Ranch on a truly distinctive and remarkable winegrowing property. Our valley floor vineyards sit at 1800 ft elevation. The higher vineyard blocks rise to nearly 3000 ft. The temperatures of some parts of this unique vineyard are some of the coldest in CA, giving Brassfield a heat summation equivalent to a Region 3 or less in some vintages.

 

In 1973, Jerry Brassfield purchased the original 1,600 acres here as a cattle ranch and wildlife reserve. Over the next three decades Jerry acquired additional property. Today, the LakeCounty estate includes 2,500 acres across both the eastern and the western sections of HighValley, as well as the Round Mountain Volcano.

 

The Vineyards were investigated for their potential to produce world-class estate-grown wines in 1998. Vineyard planting began in 2001. As the vineyards matured, the winery has grown with a state-of-the-art winemaking facility.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  On the exotic nose there are blackberries, Asian spices, cracked black peppercorns, licorice, eucalyptus, dark chocolate, cherries, earthy tree bark, smoked meat, and plums.  This is fairly full bodied with solid, ripe tannins and decent acidity.  The fruit and dark chocolate hit the palate first with some nice earthiness and spice coming in a couple seconds later followed by a touch of excess oak.  Nice length on the finish with is slightly marred by a bit too much oak.  This will benefit from some time in a decanter or even better a few more months in the cellar.  Earlier bottle that had been decanted a couple hours didn’t show as much oak.  Tasty but give it some air.  (89 pts)

 

 

 

2001 Castello di Verduno Barbaresco Faset – $28.74

 

My Comments

This is a wine I bought from Garagiste Wine a few years ago,.  I opened one bottle but felt it still needed some cellar time.  I love a nice Barbaresco maybe even more than a Barolo, to me they are a bit more versatile to pair with food.  It’s hard to find a good quality Barbaresco for under $30, but this one could fill that void for me.

 

Winery History

In 1838, King Carlo Alberto of Savoy purchased the Castle of Verduno from the two charitable institutions and entrusted the management of his estate and wine cellar to the famous enologist General Carlo Staglieno.  Here, following the method suggested by Giulia Falletti Colbert, the ‘Oenotechnician General’ Paolo Francesco Staglieno made the first vinifications of the nebbiolo grape, laying the bases for modern Barolo.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine was decanted about 30 minutes.  The wine is a light to medium ruby with a fair amount of brick.  Earthy, cherries, fresh ground espresso, baking spices, dark chocolate, cedar, minerals, white pepper, and a slight floral note on the very pleasing nose.  Medium body with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  Nice earthy cherries, spice, and minerals on the palate with just a touch of oak in the background.  Fairly long finish which has an added slight herbal note that is in no way distracting.  Tasting very nice now, but this will hold and maybe even improve over the next few years.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

My wife made her meat sauce that simmers for hours for dinner.  Add in a couple pieces of garlic-cheese bread and a touch of grated cheese and we had a fantastic dinner on this cool early Fall day.

 

 

 

2008 JC Cellars “The First Date” – $14.24

 

My Comments

I grabbed a few bottles of this from my local wine store at an end of vintage closeout sale.  I am a big fan of both red and white wines made from the grapes native to the Rhone region in France.  I’ve been looking forward to seeing what Jeff Cohn was able to do with this white wine.  I’ve been a big fan of Jeff’s red wines since his days at Rosenblum.  This wine is a blend of 75% Roussanne, 25% Marsanne.

 

Winery History

When Jeff Cohn was the winemaker at Rosenblum Cellars, annually he crafted more than 70 different wines.  Today, at his Oakland-based warehouse winery, the irrepressible vintner now limits himself to a mere 21 bottlings, focusing on Rhône varietals.  Cohn’s longtime relationships with some of California’s top growers and vineyards enable him to source some of the state’s finest fruit, including Rockpile in SonomaCounty, Fess Parker in Santa BarbaraCounty and Stagecoach in Napa.

 

My Tasting Note

A real nice, golden yellow color.  The wine has a rich and exotic nose with white peaches, pears, minerals, lemon curd, beeswax, spring flowers, spicy oak, and hints of vanilla bean, and apples.  This is medium body with decent acidity, and a creamy, oily texture on the palate.  Nice mineral laden, white fruit on the palate with some spicy oak in the background and citrus zest proving nice zip.  Seems a touch disjointed on the palate with the oak popping in and out especially on the finish when the wine is a touch chilled, at room temperature, the wine settles down and is much more enjoyable.  Pretty nice, but watch the serving temperature, this is much better served at “red wine temperature”.  (88 pts)

 

 

2007 Two Hands Shiraz Bella’s Garden – $34.99

 

My comments

Two Hands is probably my wife’s favorite non California winery.  Any time I pull one from the cellar, I get a big smile when she sees the bottle.  I grab as much of the wines as possible when I see them at a good price, because frankly, they are also a favorite of mine.  All the attention the winery gets from Wine Spectator is making it harder to find the wine at a decent price so I can grab case lots, so I make due with two or three bottles at a time.  Australian Shiraz may be a dead market according to most of the major wine writers, and that may be true, but now for Two Hands wines from Garden series down.

 

Winery History

Two Hands Wines was founded in early 1999 by Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz.

The original aim shared by Michael and Richard was to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized Shiraz growing regions throughout Australia. Their intention was, and still is, to showcase the diversity of Australian Shiraz by highlighting regional characteristics and allowing the fruit to be the primary feature of the wines. Two Hands refers to the very personable approach taken with each parcel of grapes, no matter how big or small. The wines are carefully guided through the viticulture and winemaking process by Michael Twelftree and winemaker, Matt Wenk.

 

In November 2011, Two Hands was named in the Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 for the 9th consecutive year, an achievement that has never been equaled by any other winery in the world.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark purple color.  There are crushed berries, minerals, fresh ground espresso, dark chocolate, smoked meat, black pepper, vanilla, black cherries, Asian spices, and violets on the very inviting nose.  This is fairly full bodied with nice, ripe tannins and good acidity.  The wine is big, bold, and ripe on the palate with no raisin or syrupy notes.  The palate features nice juicy, spicy berries with some oak in the background with minerals, meat, and dark chocolate.  There is a long, lingering finish with the spicy berries lingering seemingly forever.  This may not be for everyone, but if you want an in your face Shiraz, look no further.  (94 pts)

 

 

 

For dinner we mad a house favorite for the first cool weekend, a big pot of Paul Prudhomme’s Red Beans and Rice.  We usually freeze a nice ham bone with a fair amount of meat still attached just for the dish.  Add some andouille and we’re set for a nice, hearty meal.  The recipe is available online at http://bit.ly/SN9fMS

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

 

Rudius

I’ve been on the Rudius mailing list since the beginning.  Rudius is Jeff and Brittany Ames.  Jeff’s name may not ring a bell, but here’s a bit of his bio:

In 2001 Jeff became Thomas Brown’s assistant winemaker at brands including Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and Tor.  Two years later, Jeff was named the head winemaker at Tor, a position he still commands.   Rudius is the culmination of Jeff’s goal of owning his own wine brand.

 

I have purchased a fair amount of Jeff’s wines and every one that I have opened has been outstanding.  I have had several of his cabernets and wines made by the Rhone varietals.  I highly recommend the Rudius mailing list.  More information about Jeff and Brittany, Rudius, and most importantly a link to join the mailing list is available on their site.  Visit http://www.rudiuswines.com/

 

 

Elyse Winery

This is Elyse’s 25th year.  You can help them celebrate the momentous occasion.  They are offering 25% off all purchases made through September 25th.  I have been a big fan of the winery since my first visit there in 2000.  They make some of my favorite, mid-priced, red wines.  I think their Cabernets, Zinfandels, Petite Sirahs, and Rhone blends are all very good to outstanding.  Visit http://www.elysewinery.com/25.html for more information.

 

 

Ledge Vineyards

This is one of my latest “finds”.  Mark Adams is the owner/winemaker for this family owned winery.  He releases one wine, and the grapes all come from the family owned vineyard.  The vineyard is about 7 acres currently and is located in Paso Robles not far from Denner and the James Berry Vineyards.  Mark is also been the assistant winemaker at Saxum where he has worked since 2004.  I highly recommend getting in on the ground floor of this exciting list.  Visit http://www.ledgevineyards.com/index.php for more information or to join the list.

 

 

Herman Story

I’m not on the Herman Story mailing list, but a friend who is on the list shares some of his allocation with me.  These are big, ripe, bold wines and every once in a while that’s what I get in the mood for.  These wines aren’t for Francophiles.  If my friend wasn’t on the list, I’d join.  If you like that style of wine as much as I do, I highly recommend checking them out, perhaps you can get something from the just released offerings.  Visit http://hermanstorywines.com/ for more information.

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

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