Wine - Notes and Comments
Dec 18, 2001
Holiday party - wine flight selection -
Dueling Rhone Rangers! 1998 Chateau De La Gardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape;
1995 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape; 1998 Caves des Papes Les Closiers
Chateauneuf-du-Pape; 1997 Del Dotto Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet
Holiday dinner party - wine flight
selection - details on
Aperitif - 1990 Piper Heidseik Champagne;
1988 Heinz Merkel
Pfalz, Venninger Doktor Kerner, Auslese; Vin
blanc - 1994 Teruzzi & Puthod - Terre di Tufo;
1995 Mer Soleil Chardonnay, 1995 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay;
Vin rouge -
1995 & 1998 E. Guigal Brune et Blonde Côte-Rôtie Rouge;
1988 & 1989 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien, Bordeaux;
1996 Del Dotto Estate Bottled Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; 1993Chateau
Grand vin de Leoville Las Cases St Julien Bordeaux; 1997 Beaulieu
Vineyards Tapestry Reserve;
Beringer 1993 Special Select Late Harvest Johannisburg Riesling; Ficklin
Maderia County Tinta Port; 1997 Rancho
Zabaco Cabernet Sauvignon Port - Northern Sonoma; Yalumba Museum Release
Old Reserve Muscat.
Long Island, New York
winery/cellar visits - 1997 Beddell Cellards Cabernet Sauvignon;
RM 88 Dark ink colour; Dry smoky tannic, a bit grassy; currant
cherry finish - tastes like an old 'end of life' bordeaux - like the 1970s
in the late 80's! 1997 Merlot Cherry smoke, dark color lighter. Corey
Creek 1998 Merlot (10% Cab Franc) Black Cherry Vanilla, spice smoke, a
bit green, RM 89. 1999 Gewurztraminer - Smokey apricot essence -
hint of apple and cognac RM 88. 2000 Late Harvest Riesling -
apricot, honey, orange aroma, hint of smoke - subtle finish of peach pear
and mango. RM89. Beddell Cellar Chardonnays 1999 - Crisp apple RM
88; 1999 Reserve - oaky, smoky RM 89. Lenz Cellars 1997 Merlot -
RM 91. Raphael Vineyards.
dinner - what do you server on this special day? Here's something
really different! 2000 Wickham Estate Bottled Special Release Fume;
1997 Robert Craig Amador County Zinfandel.
DOTTO Napa Valley Sangiovese - (RM92) $40 (Label)
Palmer Margaux Bordeaux WS RP 97 RM 91 Classic Bordeaux Cedar licorice
plum leather and spice according to RP. who ranked it among best of the
vintage. 1998 Paraduxx Napa (Magnum) RM 92 Duckhorn Vineyards known
for merlot produces this delicious Howell Mt. Merlot based meritage, often
accented with Zinfandel - Big fruit - oak, blackberry, raspberry and black
cherry with a hint of licorice! - find it if you can...1997
Northstar Merlot Yakima Valley Chateau St. Michelle RM 92 See
review. Full flavorful wine with mellow oak,
blackberry, sweet cherry, and a soft raspberry finish. Also tasted
1997 Tapestry Reserve
- enjoy it while its still in abundence. Find these wines at Morton's in
Westchester. W/ TRR, RV, CC Eric M. et al.
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Gruaud Larose St Julien Bordeax RP 97 WS94 RM 88 Berry, grape with a mineral finish.
1998 Matthews Yakima Valley Meritage WS 88 RM 91 $45 Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Blackberry, currant, and that Yakima
appellation 'cognac' tone.
Pichon Longueville Baron St Julien Bordeax RP 88 WS 97 RM 89
Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Columbia Valley $14 (WS 87 RM 86) Red
raspberry, strawberry, eucalyptus with a grassy tone and hint of a of mint
Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) (WS RM 91) Rewards from
the cellar - Flavorful cherry, berry, olive and oak. This was a great
value upon release but dont expect to find it east of the rockies!
Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - WS 91 RM 89 Flavorful, full, smokey
berry floral and mushrooms. Tasted at Chapmans.
$30 (RM 90) Product from joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Marchesi
De Frescobaldi reflects the blockbuster vintage - berry fruit, cedar, oak
and raisins. Enjoyed at Amores in Bloomingdale with Considines.
||1985 Cos d'
Estournel St. Estephe Bordeaux $85 (RC 93) Very refined and polished -
a robust nose filled with ripe blackberry and current. This is a deep and
complex wine that has a long and chewy aftertaste. Tasted by Rick C nd
Wendy with Frank and Mary Elle.
des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Closiers $24 (WS 91 RM 89) Ripe,
medium bodied, spicy, peppery plum and berry fruit.
Corner Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra $24 (RM 89 WS89) Dark, full
bodied ripe, flavorful mouthful of berry, a hint of plum and cedar -
this should soften a bit more with time.
Merlot - (RM 93) (label
and website) Firm, complex, full bodied
with tightly wound tannins yet didn't hold back its blackberry and plum
fruit with a lingering cherry, chocolate and cassis and cedar finish.
||1988 Cos d'
Estournel, St. Estephe, Bordeaux - (WS 95 RP 86 RM 88) Look at the
disparity between the Parker and WS ratings. You decide! A bit austere,
tannic, a hint of Bordeaux perfume, blackberry, spice, tar, moderate
finish. From the cellar w/ Rick C.
Napa Valley Private Reserve Chardonnay (WS 92 SS RM 90), 1999 Gallo
of Sonoma Russian River Laguna Ranch Chardonnay (WS 88 RM 91) -
Beringer is always a safe bet for Chardonnay. It was smooth balanced,
smoky, toasty, a touch of that buttery fruit, unspectacular (when compared
to the blockbuster 95). It was outdone by the Gallo - more forward,
fruity, citrus and huge delicious spice overtone. Tasted at Parker's in DG
with PP, TR, DRH.
Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet CS (RM 94 WS 94) (WSCS); 1997 Robert Craig
Howell Mountain Cabernet (RM 92 WS 92). A tribute to Robert
Craig at its best. A great duel of two fruit bombs from a spectacular
vintage. Enjoy these while you can. Huge full berry flavor, full rich
balanced yet soft on the finish cherry, berry, and spicy chocolate. The
Howell is only slightly behind. Robert & Lynn Craig and Rudy Z, their
associate winemaker were featured winemakers at our
Napa Wine Experience 99 and
RC website. They're both on the great winelist at Sullivan's
here in Naperville; with Rick C, DRH, and S.
DOTTO Napa Valley Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve - (RM93) $48 (Label)
This is DDO's flagship blend of Cabernet (83%) and Sangiovese (17%). The
1998 growing year reduced the crop by 30% from previous years giving the
Cabernet a heartier body and longer aging ability than previous years.
Revealing the Sangiovese's fruity nose with a strong intense floral flavor
- add the Cab and you have a a big full bodied chunky fruity wine with
dark cherry, berry, red licorice. Twelve hundred cases are available.
Del Dotto's were featured winemakers at our
Napa Wine Experience 99. Their
website is done by your's truly!
Tasted the DDO opposite one of my other favorites
Balmoral Syrah 1998
it stood up and held its won well. A great tasting!
Calon Segur, St. Estephe Bordeaux $18 WS 83 RM 84 An off-year for
Bordeaux means affordable wines for a change, (30% the price of the 95!)
similar to the 1987 vintage, pick some up for tasting now but don't expect
much. Light, unstructured, only a hint of that classic Bordeaux aroma,
cherry and cedar and spicy finish. 97 is obviously the year for Napa Cabs
and Super Italians!
Merlot 1994 Sonoma Valley $24 WS 89 RM 89 Rich full bodied and complex
black cherry, mocha, coffee and cedar. Ready now!
1998 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $32 WS 88 RM 89 Tasty berry, spicy
eucalyptus and a hint of cassis on the finish.
Craig Paso Robles Syrah; $24 WS 89 RM 90 Rich, tasty, plum and berry,
with a hint of oak and cedar and spice on the finish.1997 Robert Craig
Chardonnay - $25 WS 93 RM 92 No doubt you dont think on Robert Craig
and Chardonnay but perhaps you should If you can find this limited
production release (200 cases), its a great bargain. WS says it this
way... smooth and creamy, with a pretty toasty oak and vanilla-scented
edge. The rich core of pear, fig, apple and melon is bright, rich and
concentrated, turning enormously complex. I don't do enough whites be
adept at verbalizing the experience. Find this if you can!
1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve;
1998 De la Gardine Chateauneuf du Pape; 1997 Joeseph Phelps Napa Valley
Syrah - The Tapestry continues to be a favorite - smooth, polished,
Cabernet Sauvignon; 1997 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot Napa; 1997 Fife Readhead Zinfandel; 1997 Gallo Sonoma Frei Ranch
Ornellaia Tenuta dell'Ornellaia $74 WS 94 RM 90 Currant and
blackberry and hints of mint.- less structured than reviews promised. It needed an hour or so to open and
reveal itself. Don't hurry.
Executive dinner - see
wine list for details -
1995 Mer Soleil Chardonnay
- A special
selection from Chuck Wagner – Caymus Vineyards;
1988 Chateau Palmer Margaux Bordeaux –
Dry with violet, berry, and fruit character; 1988 Chateau
Beychevelle St. Julien Bordeaux –
bodied with silky tannins, aromas of raspberry, mint, a hint of
violet. Lead pencil and fruit on the long aftertaste;
1989 Cordier Chateau Gruaud Larose St. Julien Bordeaux
Subtle aromas of raspberry and spices.
Full bodied with full tannins, long silky textured berry finish.
1990 Chateau Cos d’Estournel St. Estephe
Exotic aromas, vanilla, black fruits,
roasted bouquet, finely balanced, concentrated, compact tannins;
Beringer Johannisburg Riesling Late Harvest
Hitchcock 1994 Staglin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon -RM 92 $35 See
Beychevelle, St. Julien, Bordeaux, 1983, 1997; Chateau Talbot, St. Julien,
1990; Chateau Palmer Margaux, 1988. The Beychevelle took best in show
here. It had much more structure and fruit than the others which were a
bit closed. Five years ago the Palmer would've won hands down with more
fruit and bouquet.
Port 1985; Dom Perignon 1990; Chateau De Pez, St. Estepehe, Bordeaux,
1990; Chateau Rayners Lane, Brokenwood Vineyard 1997 Shiraz;
Figeac St. Emilion 1982 (RMP 93) $120-$295 One of our signature wines
commemorating Ryan's graduation! (Read my
for background) That classic Bordeaux perfume, dark cherry, mocha and
cassis with a lasting finish. The 750's are due to drink - the large
formats surely have life yet. (Label)
Michelle 1998 Syrah Reserve ($30) (RM87) (label)
Tart cherry and plum with a raspberry finish. A bit tart up front -
softer on the finish. Picked this up at the chateau in
Woodinville - worth a stop if in Seattle.
Leoville Las Cases St. Julien 1988 (Label)
Classic perfume and floral scents - polished and balanced - dark cherry
and soft oak. Too fancy a wine for a weeknight but I'm celebrating my
appearance in Spectator on my birthday!
||Chateau de la
Gardine 1997 Chateauneuf-du-Pape $30 (WS 88 RM 87) We'd preferred the
98 but that will have to wait. (I have a case waiting at RC's if he hasn't
drunk it already!) This one's a bit lighter and more austere than the
current release - still full of berry, soft tannins a touch of pepper, oak
and vanilla. Tasted with Andrew Vadjinia of LV Aureole
(see below) at a popular renouned Chicago restaurant to remain
nameless. Great times comparing our respective trips to CDP - See
Rhone Wine Experience! Thanks Andrew
- next time it's on me! Cheers. His high tech surprise alluded to below
was revealed by
WINE SPECTATOR this week.
Napa Alec's Blend $45 (WS89 RM91) Great, fun wine for Mother's day,
with the big Laverne like 'L' on the cap for Linda (my wife), mother
of our son Alec, this wine commemorates producer and former Indy racer
Randy and Debbie Lewis's grandson, born on the day of harvest of these
grapes, as I recall. Unique blend of 65% Cab, 20% Syrah, and 15%
Petit Verdot. Flavorful black cherry and blackberry, with touch of tobacco
and long finish of anise, tannins, and a touch of vanilla. Check out
reviews and their
Canon, St. Emilion 1986 - (RP91 RM90) $90 Fabulous perfume, floral
bouquet, red raspberry, smoke and oak with light soft tannins. Tasted at
magnificent Aureole at Mandalay Bay in Vegas. Andrew
Vadjinia has created an extraordinary wine experience - 3300 labels from
around the globe, the largest vertical of Grange in the US, classic
Bordeaux to the turn of last century, super Italians, and an
impressive array of favorite Napa boutique producers featured on this
page: Robert Craig, Clark Claudon, La Sirena, Paradigm, Cornerstone,
Liparita, on &on. Its my ultimate fantasy winelist - even Dead Arm! Lots
of big bottles and halves too. The cellar is 4 stories tall encased in
glass with a wrap around stairs and catwalk. Has to been seen to be
believed. Andrew & staff were gracious and hospitable. Got a peak at his
soon to be announced surprise. Watch for it! A grand experience for
wine buffs & techies alike. Well done!
1998 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon $50 (WS89 RM91), 1997
Cornerstone Napa Cabernet Sauvignon $60 (WS94 RM90) Domaine des
Espiers Gigondas $30 (RM 87) Dark cherry, pepper, smoke. Cornerstone
was most complex and sophisticated but a bit closed and less approachable,
than Plumjack; revealed more fruit - berry, plum, tobacco, cedar..
Cornerstone was dark, berry, plum, currant. Mary Pisor of Plumpjack was a
featured winemaker at our 1999 Napa Wine
Experience. Foundation Room @ House of Blues, Las Vegas, iTRACS Bicsi
team, Craig C & Craig R.
1997 Paso Robles Syrah $24 (WS 87 RM 92!) This is a new
release from Robert. Only 200 cases are available - its delicious
and a good value. Hopefully, production will increase! Cherry, plum & hint
of smoke with a smooth mocha finish. What fun! See earlier
review & links. In Vegas w/ TR & PP
Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon $39 (WS 89 RM 89) Cherry and plum with a
hint of anise and mint. Patrick and Linda Elliott-Smith were featured
winemakers at our
1998 Napa Wine Experience.
Website. There's a
great story regarding their stylish label!
1997 Mudgee Mountain Blue Shiraz Cabernet (75-25%) Aus $40
(WS90 RM91) Add a touch of that distinctive McLaren Vale blueberry taste
to currant and plum with moderate tannins. I'd like to do a comparison
tasting between this and the Silverado Merlot below - both delicious.
Vineyards 1997 Merlot Napa Valley $28 (WS 87 RM 91) Full and tannic
with burst of flavorful plum, pear and currant flavor. Soft, pleasant, and
tasty. Tasted opposite the
1998 M. Chapoutier
Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine -
contrast in style and taste. See review.
Tasted w/ TR and KC at Bleu in Greenwich.
Behrens & Hitchcock 1994 Napa Staglin Vineyard
$28 (WS 92 RM91) CL Tasting this at Tra Vigne we emptied the Cantina of
their entire supply and clamored for more but only 100 cases were produced
in their second year. Luckily for all, production is increasing. They were
featured in the
WS Undiscovered Dozen in Dec 97. Black cherry, raspberry and mocha
pack a big long smooth finish. Read about & seek out B&H if you can find
it. Your wine shop contacts will come in handy.
Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain $45 (WS 88 RM90) A bit
slight and austere initially but a big berry aroma and flavor punch of
cherry a touch of pear and that Howell Mountain currant with a cedar
cassis finish. Gove Celia, Liparita's winemaker was featured in our 1998 Napa
Wine Experience. Liparita
is always well received and very popular when I serve at tastings.
Vinedos Alion 1995 Ribera del Duero Reserva $32 (WS 92 RM 91)
Not knowing Spanish wines, this greatly exceeded my expectations
with its body, polish and nice full fruit flavor of berry and cherry
with a soft plum tone. It fairly plentiful so it should be easy to find.
Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 - (WS 93 RM 93) ($45)
Smooth tannins, depth and body with balanced currant and black cherry
flavors with a subtle finish. This wine has a lot of life yet. Randy
Snowden was a featured winemaker at our
1998 Napa Wine Experience. See review of their
Lost Valley release.
Rosemount Balmoral Syrah 1998
($40) (RM 93) They did it again! One of my favorite wines for the
last several years. Deep colour, pleasant aroma and lots of intense
fruit - plum and blackberry blueberry, a touch of spice and soft
tannins. Another winner in this vertical!
Duc 1998 Gigondas Prestige des Hautes Garrigues ($45)(WS 94 RM
91) Big full wine with a layer of tannins accentuated by ripe plum and
blackberry flavors. Not as big or as tannic as I expected based on
reviews. We visited the quaint and rustic Gigondas during our
Rhone Wine Experience 99 looking for
Santa Duc without success. Too bad - they've produced some blockblusters
the past few years.
Barone Ricasoli Toscana Casal Ferro ( RM 84) $35.
One of the Super Tuscans - huge rating in 97.... Closed and tight, musty
earthiness overshadows the fruit - perhaps corked?
Sonoma Merlot; (See review
below): 1997 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (WS91 RM90); $28
Full balanced w/
currant, vanilla, leather and mocha. 1998 Duckhorn Napa Merlot (WS 85 RM
87) - A light earthy berry, cedar, and mocha.
Label 1998 M.
Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-Pape La
Bernardine - See review. Sullivan's
Chicago - iTRACS Board Mtg dinner
Robert Craig Mt Veeder CS (RM 92WS 94) (WSCS);
1997 Rosemount Balmoral Syrah; 1997 BV Tapestry - (see my
earlier reviews below of these - some of my favorite wines.) -
What a trio of great wines from T Cook's WS Award of Excellence wine
list! The Craig was over-powered early by the dueling fruit bombs but
opened up eventually to reveal full rich tight but soft on the finish
cherry, berry, and spicy chocolate. Robert & Lynn Craig and Rudy Z, their
associate winemaker were featured winemakers at our
Napa Wine Experience 99 and
RC website. T Cooks, Phoenix
1998 DEL DOTTO Napa Valley
Sangiovese - (RM92) $40 (Label)
This is DDO's first release of a 100% Sangiovese, grown on the mountains
of Calistoga in Napa Valley. Super fruity nose with a strong intense
floral flavor - a big chunky fruity wine. A favorite of Nils Venge, DDO
winemaker. Only a few hundred cases are available. Del Dotto's
were featured winemakers at our Napa Wine
1997 Joseph Phelps
Napa Valley Syrah
$35 (WS 94 RM92) Polished smooth mouthful of plum, blackberry, and a
nice smooth oak finish. Another 97 blockbuster value.
1997 Silverado Vineyards
Napa Valley Cabernet
Sauvignon $30 (WS 90 RM 90) Smooth, soft flavors of
plums, black currants and mocha on the on the nice soft finish. Rick
w/ John R. Un Bacio's, Scottsdale
||1997 St. Supery Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon $22 (WS 91RM 90) WS SS Another great value
from the fabulous 97 Cab's! Complex, full, flavorful with plum,
blackberry and a smooth finish of soft tannins.
Mondavi Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $45 (WS 94 Rm 93) Big
firm polished currant flavor with anise, touch of sage and tobacco with a
smooth long finish.
Toscana Solaia Tuscany (WS 98 RM 95) CS $115
Label This was
the WS #1 wine for 2000. Their review- Dark ruby in color, with
extremely ripe raisin and spice aromas. Full-bodied and very chewy, with
loads of polished tannins and a long, long finish that's big and fruity. A
solid, muscular red from Tuscany, this is the greatest Solaia ever made.
RM - The flavor was a slight bit 'green' to my liking - however it is very
distinctive. 75% Sangio 20% CS 5% Franc. Antinori Toscana Tignanello 1997
- Tuscany (WS 95 RM 94) $75 CS
Another of the fabulous 97 Super Tuscans, Intense ripe blackberry
fruit, perfectly balanced - soft tannins and a long smooth finish. This is
the opposite of the Solaia with 75% CS 20% Sangio 5% Franc
WWW Antinori Tasted @ Tomaso's in
Tempe w/ Tom R, Craig C., & Bob V.
Larose, St Julien Bordeaux 1985 - (WS87 RP 90 RM88) (LBL)
(CL) Fragrant bouquet - earthy, blackberry highlights with tones of
truffle and mushroom with a long big floral finish. Commemorating Sean's
birth-year vintage on his 16th. See other vintage
DOTTO Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - (RM92) $62 (Label)
Perfume of sweet oak & plum - flavor packed currant, black berry, cherry
and a sweet oak smooth vanilla finish with soft tannins. The 15%
Merlot and 5% Cab Franc add roundness and a hint of spice and smoke.
27 months aging in a variety of oak barrels adds a unique delicious
sweet oak complexity Del Dotto's were featured winemakers at our
Napa Wine Experience 99. Nils Venge is
consulting winemaker. See '97 review.
Sauvignon Knights Valley - $25 (WS88-RM90) Tasty currant, black
cherry, mocha and slight vanilla flavors. (web)
Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve $23 (WS90 RM91) (Web)
SS. Great wine at a reasonable price - outstanding value. Big mouth full
of flavor; sweet oak accented by black cherry, currant, sweet cherry
-.complex long smooth finish. Like the Northstar below for $1/2!
||Tasting at the
Chateau St. Michelle in Woodinville, WA
- despite the dreary weather the hospitality was warm and welcoming.
1993 Cold Creek Cabernet (RM87).($30) Blackberry, cassis and
leather with soft tannins. 1997 Columbia Valley Syrah Reserve
(RM90) ($30) Distinctive Columbia Valley sweet 'cognac' taste accented
with blackberry and supple smooth smoky finish. 1997 Col Solare (web)(RM90)($70)
- Bold black currant and blackberry with mocha and leather -
84% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot, 3% syrah From the partnership between
Chateau Ste. Michelle and Italy's Marchesi Antinori.1995
Northstar 77% Merlot 23% Cab. (RM92) ($47)
Crafted by winemakers Gordy Hill & Jed Steele with fruit from Wahluke
Slope, Yakima basin and Columbia Valley, produced a big full flavorful
wine with mellow oak, blackberry, sweet cherry, and a soft raspberry
finish. Leader of the pack!
Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine
(WS92 RM 91) Medium-bodied, tight with lots of blackberry, pepper, and a
touch of plum and tannins on the long finish. Recognizable by the unique
brail label. (label).
Freemark Abbey Napa Sycamore
Vineyard (WS88, RM89) - Tightly wound, dark cherry, currant, spice
with a mocha finish. 1994 Grgich Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (WS 88
RM87) Austere, light, blackberry, cassis , tannic. 1998 Chateau
Pape (RM 92) We visited this magnificent Chateau during our
1999 Rhone Wine Experience. The 98
CDP vintage is fabulous... this has big fruit, blackberry, cassis,
pepper, spice, well rounded and polished. Happy 50th Bill!
Lehman Shiraz Barossa - (WS92 - RM91)$16 (website
Flavorful, packed with
blackberry, , a hint of vanilla & spicy cinnamon and a smooth peppery
finish. Another winner even better than the
earlier vintages that I
recommended wholeheartedly; and another great value. Should be available -
gotta try this.. almost too good for 'everyday' wine!
|Jan 1, 2001
Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc - (WS91- RM91)$48 (Label)
Flavorful pepper-spice, vanilla, cedar, black cherry. Del
Dotto's were featured winemakers at our
Napa Wine Experience 99. Nils Venge is consulting winemaker.
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