9/29/2006

Veramar Vineyards visit

Last Friday we decided to take full advantage of a mildly cool, but sunny day and visit Veramar Vineyards. Veramar Vineyards is located in Berryville , VA and situated upon a beautiful and picturesque 100 acre estate. Veramar is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and sits at the base of the Shenandoah River and offers spectacular views of the Virginia countryside in her finest and most natural form.


Cabernet Franc 2005


Veramar is a family run, third generation winery operated by Della and husband James Bogaty. Their son, Justin Bogaty, is the winemaker and to the wineries acclaim, their wines have received numerous awards in international and local competitions.


Entering the winery you will find an elegant and beautifully decorated tasting room with attractive décor and high ceilings. For the upcoming cooler months, there is also a fireplace that will assist in keeping you warm and snug while savoring your favorite glass of wine.


Tasting Room

We were warmly greeted by Della at the tasting bar and enjoyed chatting with her about anything wine related. She was kind enough to share the history of the winery with us and the Bogaty winemaking and business philosophy that has made Veramar such a successful winery for its youthful age. For those with a penchant for history, the Bogaty family winemaking heritage goes back several generations to the Italian Alps where family members still operate small vineyards today.

Tasting bar

Moving to our tasting, the following wines were poured: Chardonnay 2005, Seyval Blanc 2005, Riesling/Vidal blend NV, Cabernet Franc 2005, Rooster Red (Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc and Merlot blend), Aurora Corona (semi sweet dessert wine), and last but not least the D’Ora (dessert wine).


We enjoyed each wine poured, along with Della’s charming descriptions of each. Wines that stuck out on the palate were the Chardonnay 2005, light straw gold in color displaying a muted tropical nose with similar flavors and toasted notes on the palate. The Cabernet Franc 2005, ruby in color displays dark fruit and violet aromas with red fruit and spice flavors on the palate; I would bring this Cabernet Franc to the altar with a lamb or veal dish, yummy indeed! The Rooster Red is also a very nice blend we enjoyed, which was smooth and displayed nice integrated flavors of berry, spice and sweet oak on the palate. The D’Ora is a pleasant dessert wine that was more fruity than sweet with a nice aromatic nose and lush tropical fruit flavors on the palate.

charming and relaxing



Have you heard the phrase, “Membership has its privileges”? In fact it does, Niki became an Estate Club member and we were immediately presented with two bottles of limited production reserve wines only available to members. Wines received were the Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and the Tres Blanc, a Chardonnay, Riesling and Vidal blend. Veramar also does a limited production Norton 2005, which is also reserved for Estate Club members only. Membership does have its privileges and I would suggest readers click here to find out more about the club and its many benefits.

Pond view



Outdoor lawn view


After our tasting we enjoyed a glass of the Cabernet Franc 2005 and Seyval Blanc 2005 and walked about the attractive grounds and found a pair of comfy outdoor chairs by a nearby pond. While sitting out and enjoying the wonderful surroundings, I was left to wonder if English novelist James Hilton was speaking of this place when he coined the term Shangri La in his book Lost Horizon. Shangri La, in the book symbolizes peace on earth and a place of harmony, happiness and joy, all of which can be found at Veramar along with quality wines.

My new little cute & furry friend

In closing, I strongly recommend readers visit Veramar Vineyards and check their events page as there are some pretty fun wine events coming up. With breath taking views, a friendly staff, and a selection of quality wines, you can certainly find your piece of Shangri La at Veramar Vineyards. When you do decide to visit please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

PS… Say hello to my little furry friend for me whe you decide to visit.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/27/2006

Breaux Vineyards Harvest Festival & Lobster Feast


Before we began visiting individual wineries, we were casual visitors to local wine festivals. We first met Paul Breaux, owner of Breaux Vineyards, at the Herndon Jazz & Wine festival some 1.5 years ago. Being a native of New Orleans myself, and Paul having Cajun roots, when he began telling us about the gumbo festivals, Mardi Gras celebrations, and the Cajun theme surrounding his winery, we knew it was only going to be a matter of time before we paid him a visit. We have been to Breaux Vineyards several times since that day and have enjoyed every visit along with their award winning wines.

Breaux Vineyards

On Saturday, September 16th we paid another visit to Breaux Vineyards to enjoy the Harvest Festival and Lobster Feast. Breaux Vineyards is located in Purcellville , VA and offers wonderful views of the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains and surrounding Virginia countryside. We arrived fairly early and there was already a nice crowd gathered enjoying food, music and wine. Admission to the festival was $10 which included a souvenir glass, the house wine tasting and all the fun you could have in a day.

The Lobster Feast !!!

We paid the admission, received our glass, and were off to our tasting. For the festival the house tasting was being offered outdoors and the reserve tasting, for a small fee, was being offered indoors. The following wines were being poured for the house tasting: Jolie Blond (Seyval Blanc) 2002, Viognier 2005, Chardonnay (steel fermented) 2003, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2002, Lafayette (Cabernet Franc / Sauvignon, Merlot blend) 2001, Merlot 2002, Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Chere Marie (Vidal Blanc) 2004, Alexis (Late Harvest Vidal Blanc dessert wine) 2004. The Reserve wines offered were the following: Lafayette 2000, Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Meritage 2002, Merlot Reserve 2002, and Nebbiolo 2002. We opted for both tastings and thoroughly enjoyed each. Breaux wines are great and all wines tasted exhibited exceptional varietal character. Winemaker, David Collins, has really done a great job at Breaux Vineyards, and it certainly is evident during a tasting of their wines.

Outdoor tasting at festival



interior of winery

After our tasting we found a table and chairs under the tent and enjoyed a bottle of the Madeleines Chardonnay 2003 with our food selections. The Madeleines 2003 is done in a crisp fashion, with clean and fresh tree fruit on the palate. There was also some great food being offered such as clams, steamed shrimp, clam chowder, grilled chicken and of course lobster. We met some really nice people and enjoyed conversation and the sounds of the Cajun blues/rock band, the Crawdaddies. The band had everyone from young to old snapping their fingers and shuffling their feet. We also enjoyed, with new friends a box of Breaux’s Cabernet Sauvignon filled dark chocolates, which was decadently delicious. We spent the next few hours enjoying more conversation, food and the tasty and refreshing Madeleines Chardonnay 2003.



Madeleines Chardonnay 2003



Patio Madeleine

In closing the festival was a wonderful way to spend a lovely weekend day; there was great food, Breaux’s award winning wines, great people and staff, good Cajun music, dancing and even hayrides around the vineyard.

The Crawdaddies rocking the crowd !!!



~ Hayrides ~

I would suggest book marking Breaux’s web site for upcoming events and visiting the winery. You can pack a picnic basket or purchase select light gourmet fare at the winery and enjoy a day spent on the patio outdoors, or next to the fireplace indoors. When you decide to visit Breaux Vineyards please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.


Stay tuned for more!

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/23/2006

Weekly Sip: (NZ) Babich Pinot Noir 2005


Some discriminating palates will argue the point that the jury is still out on the kiwi Pinot Noirs. My very first experience with the kiwi Pinot Noirs was not a favorable one; an $11 bottle from a lesser known Canterbury region resulting in a fruit lacking, light bodied example. With Pinot Noir however, I have found that this is one varietal where you get what you pay for, and much of what you pay for is location. What a difference a region makes! Move Northward on South Island to Marlborough , the most important wine making region in New Zealand.

Certainly, I’m sure everyone has enjoyed some rock star quality, reasonably priced Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough and Hawkes Bay this spring and summer. If not, for less that $13 you should be able to find a bottle to experience the zest and zing for yourself; most people either like it or love it. For me, the transition into autumn influences my wine selection and I’ll move more so towards Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and other select reds, as well as fuller whites.

Pinot Noir is not a varietal you will find much of in Virginia. Some vineyards grow it, and the end result is usually a light bodied example where the fruit dissipates quickly, but for the warmer months it might work for some.

All this to say New Zealand is doing some great things with their Sauvignon Blancs; so much so that the influence has grown onto other areas to find ways to make their Sauvignon Blanc in typical kiwi fashion, example, California. With that, the kiwi Pinot Noirs are not too far behind; reasonably priced, and a come hither, seducing style that displays complexity, good varietal character and your typical red fruit integrated with a sometimes chocolate and coffee bean nose.

With sun filled days, cool nights and a long growing season, Marlborough certainly could be the ideal host to the Pinot Noir grape. In addition to, the kiwis appear to be striving towards keeping their product consistent and polished for their thriving export market; and of course foreign interest in the country has taken the kiwis over top and into the global market.


Babich Pinot Noir 2005


The wine pictured is the Babich Pinot Noir 2005 from the Marlborough region. I purchased this at Unwined for under $17. This young wine displays a deep ruby color with aromas of cherry and spice that follows through to the palate with a nice lingering finish. Picture this paired with a red pasta sauce, pork or game dish or even on its own. From my personal experience, Breaux Vineyards dark chocolate goes quite nicely as a side treat.

Similar values from the Marlborough region can be found, so if you have a favorite, drop me an email or comment so I may try it.

In closing I wonder what Miles impression of the kiwi Pinot Noir would be; seeing how one could despise Cabernet Franc and Merlot and so love a 1961 Cheval Blanc leaves Dezel to wonder (lol). One thing is for certain however, given Pinot Noirs food pairing diversity it may pair well with burger and fries.

Stay tuned for reviews of Breaux Vineyards Lobster feast, Veramar Vineyards visit, Tarara Great Grape festival, and a Viognier from South Africa .

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/18/2006

Local Wine Shops

There are grocery and convenience stores where you can purchase wine and then there are your preferred local wine shops.

Most of your better wine shops are committed to excellence in service and encourage wine education and are stocked with good selections of interesting wines. As much as I enjoy consuming wine in moderation, I’m equally as eager to learn about our favorite healthy beverage. Being a wine novice, I find wine to be an extraordinary hobby with new adventures around every corner, and of course there is so much to learn and enjoy. Early this year walking into a wine store was a mind boggling experience for me; there were so many selections, the names were confusing, and the French section totally sent me running for the door. Needless to say, when you visit a wine shop with a friendly, experienced and helpful staff, all these initial fears fly out the window and wine shops become very fun and enjoyable places to visit. Also as you taste and learn more about the wonderful world of wine, you will develop a taste for what you are looking for and what to ask for when you visit a wine shop; staff recommendations never hurt either.

The wine shops I visit in my local area are Unwined in Alexandria , Planet Wine in Alexandria , and lastly Total Wine in Springfield . Each of these stores offer free weekend tastings, as well as periodic weekday tastings. I recommend visiting their web site for a tasting and store event schedule.

Educational opportunities, wine tasting and dinner events can also be found at local wine shops. For example, Total Wine offered weekly and weekend wine educational courses at their Chantilly store this past summer (sorry its about over). Just recently at Unwined I was part of a diverse group made up of wine enthusiasts of all levels to be tasters of never before stocked wines, and give impression of those wines in a round table discussion. More recently I visited Planet Wine and attended a tasting hosted by a small boutique producer of quality California wines, Surh Luchtel Cellars. There was a lecture after each pour and delectable hors d’ oeuvres served. Below are pictures of the pleasant and intimate event, and I encourage readers to check their site, as well as the others for future wine events.



Kerry of Planet Wine setting up for the event



Winenaker Don Surh lecturing to the crowd on his wines



Now that I have shared a few of my favorite wine shops with you, let’s hear a little about where you shop for your wines.

Also stay tuned for reviews of Three Fox Vineyards, the Harvest Festival and Lobster Feast at Breaux Vineyards, and several wine reviews.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/15/2006

Virginia Dare ...enjoy the only wine of its kind


Several Saturdays ago when visiting a favorite local restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, I spotted this classic advertisement for Virginia Dare Wine on the wall; it read as follows:

“Show me the way to your homes” says Virginia Dare. “So you folks can enjoy the only wine of its kind in the world”.

Vintage Virginia Ad I spotted



As many readers already know, Virginia Dare was the first child born in the New World . Legend later would tell of a beautiful tall blond woman who lived amongst the Indians and was accidentally mistaken for a white doe and killed by a hunter’s arrow. There are various spins and variations regarding the life of Virginia Dare, but one thing is for certain; Virginia Dare came to symbolize innocence, purity and strength.

In 1835, Garrett & Company, a New York business cleverly adopted the name ‘Virginia Dare’ as a brand for their wine. They also had several other brands, but Virginia Dare would prove to be the most popular. The wines produced were vinified from the Scuppernong grape. The Scuppernong grape is a Native American white wine variety and one of the first grapes used in making wine by early colonist. The Scuppernong grape produces a sweet and aromatic wine and was known and liked for its high yield.


Early 1900's Virginia Dare wine bottle



In 1919 Prohibition forced Garrett & Company to use their alcohol in the manufacturing of flavoring extracts. After prohibition ended in 1933, and with the extract business thriving, Garrett returned Virginia Dare Wine to the market. The success of Virginia Dare Wine was short lived after the death of its catalyst, Mr. ‘Captain’ Garrett in 1940. The flavoring extract side of the business still thrived, and after being purchased and sold several times it still carries the name of Virginia Dare today.

Virginia Dare wine bottle and ad products can be found here on eBay.

Virginia Dare flavoring extract/history page can be found here.


Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/12/2006

Fabbioli Cellars Fratelli 2005




On Sunday we visited FedEx field to attend the Washington Redskins season opener versus the Minnesota Vikings. The Redskins fought long and hard, but in the end came up short on the finish.

One finish that did not come up short was the Fabbioli Cellars Fratelli 2005, a nicely done Chambourcin based blend with a splash of Tannat for structure. We enjoyed a glass of this wine last month at an event held at Fabbioli Cellars. The Fratelli blend is inviting and smooth with pleasant fruit and herbaceous aromas and similar flavors on the palate. We paired the Fratelli 2005 with roast beef dinners while tailgating and the marriage went well.

Although the Redskins came up short, the Virginia wine was a winner!

On a side note my other favorite team, the Patriots, are back to their wining ways. Let’s hope the Redskins can get on track in Dallas this weekend.



Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/11/2006

Winery at La Grange visit


On Saturday we decided to take a step back in time and visit Virginia's newest winery, Winery at La Grange , located in historic Haymarket , VA. The winery opened for business over the Labor Day holiday weekend and is the result of winemaker, consultant and owner, Chris Pearmund and partners efforts to bring a winery of elegance and classic distinction to Prince William County.


The Winery at La Grange is a restored 3.5 story late 18th century Manor House that captures the charm and character of its time and is sure to deliver an enchanting atmosphere to all who visit today. Can you imagine the history, legend, tale, lore and ghost stories that surround this tasteful gem?



Winery at La Grange



As we walked up the steps to La Grange, I felt like we were off to visit a Duke of favorable nobility, opposed to visiting a winery. The house is an instant charmer that hides her age very well. As we entered, we were greeted by a very friendly staff and preceded to the tasting room for our taste of history so to speak.


Main tasting area



We were assisted by tasting associate Adale, and the following wines were being poured: Pinot Grigio 2005, Fletchers Chardonnay 2005 (2006 Silver Medal - Atlantic Seaboard Competition), Viognier 2005 (2006 Silver Medal - Atlantic Seaboard Competition), Vidal Blanc 2005, Claret 2005, Cabernet Franc 2005, Merlot 2005 and lastly the Meritage 2004 (2006 Silver Medal - Atlantic Seaboard Competition). All the wines tasted clearly exhibited good varietal character. Especially enjoyed were the Fletchers Chardonnay 2005, which had a full mouth feel and flavors of apple and spice contained in a nice oak frame. The aromatic Viognier 2005 had a nice body, citrus nose and full citrus and sweet oak flavors. The reds were all nice, but we took a liking to the Merlot 2004 which was full and nicely balanced with flavors of red fruit, herb and oak on the palate. The 2004 Meritage blend was tasty, exhibiting berry, red fruit and spice flavors with a nice lingering finish. La Grange also offers a Brut Reserve 2003 Sparkling wine and a Snort 2005 (Port Styled wine), these are of limited production and only available for purchase by bottle. Adale was very friendly and informative about the wines being poured. She also shared with us the history of the house and the good things still to come.


From talking with other patrons during our tasting, several people familiar with Pearmund wines were expecting the La Grange wines to taste like the Pearmund wines. This was not the case however, as these wines are vinified from different grapes and made in a different style and after tasting, it becomes quite apparent these wines are yummy and in a class of their very own.


Adale, all smiles at La Grange



After our tasting we decided to walk about the house and grounds before digging into our picnic basket. The house has many rooms and moving upstairs one will find a room dedicated to presenting and preserving the history of La Grange the Manor House. Interesting readings and artifacts can be found in this room giving a glimpse into the history of this 200+ year old Manor House and surroundings. Next was a visit to one of the neighboring parlor rooms, which with fireplaces, sofas and a unique dated style of its own will be perfect for the upcoming cooler months and a nice glass of something red, rich and full.


Artifacts from the history room



One of the cozy and charming parlor rooms


Moving right along we headed to the newly built winery/barrel room which sits directly behind the Manor House. This is a lovely red spacious building where wine tasting and events can also be held. While walking about the barrel room I noticed two rare 500 gallon Hungarian oak vats; attractive and stylish to say the very least.


View from winery to rear of Manor House - notice the arching boxwoods




Aesthetically pleasing and rare Hungarian Oak Vats



Next, we made our way outdoors to walk the grounds of the Manor House. The newly planted vineyard consist of 5000+ Cabernet Sauvignon vines that will take a few years to develop and mature before being vinified into quality wine. There are future plans for additional plantings of Merlot and Pinot Grigio on the property as well. Facing the vineyard are picturesque views of the Virginia countryside and piedmont to enjoy. There is also a spacious patio with tables and chairs and an outdoor BBQ pit and additional seating areas for patrons to make use of.



Vineyard View



After a walk and some conversation we decided on a bottle of the award winning Viognier 2005 to pair with our lunches on the patio. We were joined by others alike and enjoyed our wine, food and conversation under sunny skies. While conversing on the subject of wine history in Virginia I had the pleasure of chatting with historian and writer Ray Olszewski who enlightened me of the many Virginia wineries and vineyards that thrived in Prince William County in the 1800’s and 1900’s. You can find Ray’s work in the Virginia Wine Gazette, and if you have the pleasure of meeting him at La Grange I’m sure he will be more than happy to tell you all about the wonderful history of the property.



Winery at la Grange Viognier 2005



Outdoor Patio



In closing, La Grange, only in its second week of being open to the public was a wonderful experience with a wealth of potential. There is still some visible work to be done, but if you look at the pictures on the web site and trace the progress, this abandoned Manor Homes transformation into a fully operational winery is unbelievable in such short time. The current selections of wines are quality no doubt, and there is something for everyone to savor. La Grange will also be one of the first wineries to offer free wireless internet access to patrons. I look forward to returning again soon to see the progress, as work continues to make your visit to this aged romantic gem a tastefully enjoyable historic wine experience.



Another must stop is Winery at La Grange, thus when you decide to visit this fine winery please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/09/2006

18th Annual Herndon Labor Day Wine & Jazz Festival



After a pleasant day spent at Waterford Vineyards, the following day we decided to take our chances with the weather and attend the 18th Annual Labor Day Herndon Jazz and Wine Festival held in Historic Downtown Herndon. The day was warm and the sun in full blossom and there were ten Virginia wineries, delicious foods to taste and some great performers to enjoy.


We met up with friends and had a really nice time. The festival was well attended so it was difficult getting a tasting, but the entire tasting idea is to get familiar with the wineries and their wines and then visit the actual winery for your true and formal tasting.


Tarara Winery

Horton Vineyards

Delfose Vineyards



Everyone was feeling red despite the warm weather, so we all agreed on the Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve 2005 to pair with our food selections. The Cabernet Franc Reserve was easy drinking displaying a nice ruby color. This wine has a nice cherry and sweet oak nose with berry fruit and mild oak flavors on the palate finishing short, but overall satisfying.


Barboursville Vineyard

Cooper Vineyards

Davis Valley Winery



We all had a great time, seeing old faces, and meeting new ones. We also caught great performances from Blues artist Catfish Hodge, guitarist Reggie Wayne Morris and caribbean latin jazz group, Mambo Combo. The day began with people pulling out umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun, and ended with people pulling out umbrellas to keep dry from the rain.


Mombo Combo

Cat Fish Hodge

Shameless self promotion of T-Shirt (lol)


Needless to say, the festival was fun, and we tried some great wines, listened to a variety of good music and had delicious food; what better way to spend a Monday off!

Stay tuned this week as we report on this weekends visits to the new Winery at LaGrange and Three Fox Vineyards.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

9/06/2006

Waterford Vineyards visit


On Sunday we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather day and pay a visit to Waterford Vineyards, located in Waterford , VA. We have enjoyed several trips to Waterford Vineyards in the past, and have also seen them at local wine events. We haven't visited the winery since the opening of the new tasting room and were eager to see the new look and taste their newly award winning wine, the Barrel Select Chardonnay 2005 (Gold Medal – VA State Fair).


Cabernet Franc 2002



The new tasting room is situated in an enchanting 18th century restored log cabin / farm house. The tasting room is nicely decorated with an attractive and charming rustic appeal. From the fireplace to the wooden floors and walls, you begin to appreciate the integrity and character of this restored beauty.


Waterford Vineyards Winery



Interior of tasting room



Moving on to our tasting, we were assisted by Lori Corcoran, who along with her husband Jim Corcoran are the winery owners. It is always a pleasure chatting with Lori, as she has such enthusiasm for the business and Virginia Wine. She was kind enough to share details on the new tasting room, upcoming releases, and the coming additions to the winery. The following selections were poured during our tasting: Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2004, Barrel Select Chardonnay 2005, Viognier 2004, Cabernet Franc 2002, and Malbec 2002. All the wines tasted exhibited good varietal character, flavor and aroma. The Gold Medal winning Chardonnay 2005 in particular is a nice full bodied wine, displaying pleasant tree fruit aromas with similar flavors on the palate that are nicely framed in subtle notes of oak with a pleasing lingering finish.


Lori, all smiles at the tasting bar


After our tasting and talking with Lori, we decided to sit outdoors and bask in the gorgeous weather day and surroundings and enjoy a glass or two of wine. Sunday was quite a busy day and while sitting outdoors we had the opportunity to converse with several wonderful couples over a few glasses of Waterford’s nicely done Cabernet Franc 2002.


While outdoors I also had the pleasure of talking with Jim Corcoran who also shares great enthusiasm and passion for the business and Virginia wine. Jim shared his wonderful story of getting started in the wine business, and expressed his expectations for Waterford . I certainly left with the impression that with every new year, this young winery which is well ahead of itself in age, will exceed expectations and make many of palates satisfyingly happy. Jim also informed us that Waterford would be bottling the 2005 reds the very next day, and that those who have tasted the 2005 Cabernet Franc was very pleased with final results. I look forward to returning soon to try some of the new reds, which coupled with Autumn is exactly what the doctor ordered (at least mine).


After chatting with Jim, a very nice couple who are friends of Lori and Jim's brought out some baguettes and “Virginia Patriot” dipping oil for us to sample. Yummy! Look out for the Virginia Patriot dipping oil as it was fantastic and can be found at the winery.


Relaxing picnic area and pond


Following a few hours of delightful conversation with all sorts of wonderful and colorful people, I decided to stretch the legs and walk about the manicured grounds. On the other side of the winery sits a picnic area that overlooks a beauteous and serene pond that several people were relishing in the day by. The pond can also be viewed from the tasting area and the 2nd floor of the house, which in the near future will be a tasting/seating area which also provides great vista views of the Loudoun countryside.


Dezel taking a stroll through Waterford Vineyards



In closing, look for great things to come from Waterford Vineyards; I myself look forward to trying the new 2005 reds and visiting again soon. Jim and Lori’s intent appears to be making one's visiting experience to Waterford a memorable one with quality wines, a nice atmosphere, and true Southern hospitality.

Waterford Vineyards is indeed a must stop on the Loudoun Wine Trail, and when you decide to visit this fine winery tell them you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel

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