Monday, March 2, 2015

March is Washington State Wine Month


Celebrate Taste Washington Wine Month

Taste Washington Wine Month in March is an annual celebration of Washington State's award winning industry. Check out the promotions happening at participating restaurants, wine shops, winery tasting rooms, and hotels.

Look over the calendar of Washington Wine Month for the best deals and events!

Friendly pour at Bookwalter Winery, Richland, Washington.
Friends tasting at Mercer Winery, Prosser, Washington.

Native Sun/Purple Star Wines pouring, Benton City, Washington.
Novelty Hill/Januik Winery, Woodinville, Washington.

Wineries, retailers and restaurants all over Washington state are offering discounts and specials on Washington wine and wine events. There is no better month to stock up on Washington wine than March!

And don't forget, the culmination of Taste Washington Wine Month is Taste Washington - happening over four days, March 26th - 29th, 2015. Buy tickets or find a list of participating wineries, restaurants and exhibitors at

Washington State Wine: Our Story (Trade)
from Washington State Wine on Vimeo.

*Related Post: Experience Taste Washington 2015


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Post Index February 2015


Focus on Washington Wine 

This is the first time I've made an effort to catalog a month worth of posts. It is as much for my readers as it is for myself. While March is officially "Washington Wine Month" for the month of February, I made an effort to focus solely on Washington wine.

In March I know that I will be covering many different wine regions including Washington.

*Note: Don't forget the largest single-region wine and food event is in March. Taste Washington March 26-29 Seattle. Still time for tickets and hotel reservations.

Washington State Wine Awards Reception.

Index of posts February 2015

4 February
- 2015 Washington State Wine Awards Winners

5 February
- Wine of the Week - Milbrandt Vineyards Brothers Blend 2011 Columbia Valley @milbrandvino

5 February
- Valentines Day Celebrations Across Washington

10 February
- Review of Barnard Griffin 2012 Merlot @BarnardGriffin

13 February
- Wine of the Week - 2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Perigee Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley @lecole41

14 February
- Recipe for Refueling Romance, Salmon Frittata and Michelle Sparkling Brut Rose' #WinePW 9

16 February
- Experience Taste Washington 2015 @TasteWashington 

19 February
- Sensory Training with Enologist Hillary Sjolund @sonoriswines

26 February
- Wine of the Week - Dunham Cellars 2011 Trutina Columbia Valley @dunhamcellars

27 February
- Conversations with Friends, "My Favorite Wine" on the Wine Muse Podcast #winemuse plus a review of a'Maurice Cellars Syrah/Grenache

27 February
- February Virtual Tasting 2012 Saviah Cellars THE JACK Cabernet Sauvignon @Saviah

28 February
- Wine Review of the Adamant Cellars 2012 Bijoux @adamantcellars

Stay posted for March notes and stories.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wine Review of the Adamant Cellars 2012 Bijoux @adamantcellars


Adamant Cellars tasting room is out near the Walla Walla airport. The first time I visited with them they were out at the Wine Incubators. So happy that they now have their own facility. I've been holding on to this and it is past time to open and review. Cool label too. 

Winemaker Devin Stinger on Release Weekend.
Make plans for Release Weekend 
April 3 - 5, 2015 Walla Walla, 10:00am – 5:00pm

Visit the Adamant Cellars tasting room for a weekend of outstanding new and current releases. Featured Walla Walla Valley Varietals: 2014 Bijoux and Albariño, 2011 Nalin and Winemaker’s Select Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Artisan Syrah, Merlot, & Cabernet Franc.

Check them out on your next visit to Walla Walla.

Tasting Notes 2012 Bijoux:

Color: Palest straw, almost silver.
Nose: Tropical, yeast, river rock, fresh spring rain, white peach, pineapple.
Palate: Creamy, crisp, nice weight, stone fruit, tingle way in the back of the mouth, peach, focused with a lot of fruit front palate, off-dry, nice zippy acid front to back with lemon peel on the finish.
After 30 minutes, very consistent, no noticeable change.

Day two: Melon, slate, toast on the nose. Creamy, melon, pineapple. Nice viscosity with almost sweet fruit, bright tingle into the melon, honey finish.

Thoughts: Crowd pleasing style, with enough sophistication to please me. Day one I would pair with shrimp cocktail, Ceviche, grilled lamb or a BLT. Day two pair with Thai, Korean BBQ and sports on the TV. The current vintage is the 2013 Bijoux. Recommended!

Blend: 65% Sauvignon Blanc 35% Semillon
Closure: Natural cork
ABV: 13%
SRP: $22

Adamant Cellars
525 E Cessna Ave Walla Walla, WA
Phone: 509-529-4161

Adamant Cellars Walla Walla Tasting Room.

Jewelry for sale at the tasting room.

Established in 2006, Adamant Cellars’ winemaker & owners, Devin & Debra Stinger making outstanding wines featuring Walla Walla AVA varietals.

Vineyards Sourced

  • Dwelley Vineyard — This 20-acre vineyard in Walla Walla is one source for sought-after Merlot.
  • Gateshead — Estate grown for Adamant Cellars. This vineyard was planted in 2009 with two outstanding Spanish varietals: Tempranillo & Albariño.
  • Les Collines — Located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. It is a source for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, & Syrah grapes in their wines.
  • Spofford Station — Located just across the state line in Milton-Freewater, this vineyard has the perfect combination of altitude & soils for the Merlot & Syrah grapes featured in some of their earlier vintages.

Related Post: Ruby Ruth Rose' Walla Walla Wonderful


Friday, February 27, 2015

February Virtual Tasting 2012 Saviah Cellars THE JACK Cabernet Sauvignon @Saviah


The February Virtual Tasting

Featured this month was the Saviah Cellars 2012 The Jack Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley. This wine retails for $18 and is widely available. The tasting took place on twitter, Thursday, February 26th, from 7-8 pm Pacific.

What you needed to participate in this virtual tasting:
1. Buy this month’s wine from the winery or a local retailer
2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8 pm Pacific on the specified date using the hashtag #saviah. For those on Twitter, follow @wawinereport.

Check Washington Wine Report for future virtual tastings.

We discussed aromas, flavors, label design, price, availability and general thoughts. Most participants rated this wine a "BUY" after an hour of tasting and tweeting, especially at the price.


Tasting Notes 2012 Saviah Cellars THE JACK

Color: Ruby purple.
Nose: Cherry, sharpened pencil.
Palate: Fruit, dark plum, cherry, brambly, coffee, smooooth, only a little tingle.

After 15 minutes: Focused with enjoyable dark fruit and dark finish. Black cherry, pepper, brown sugar, light tobacco on the nose. Like.

After 30 minutes: Tannin showed, fine tannin on the tongue, nice tingle too. Some dark fruit, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, fine tannin, slightly bitter on the finish. Would be fantastic with lightly seasoned steak of course. Started to open up after 35 minutes with earthy dark nose, some violets and cherry cordial, chocolate on the palate, grippy on gums, bigger and less bitter on the finish.

At 1 hour: Some herbaceous flavors mid-palate, fruit focused to the front, smoky meatiness (I liked), salt, light soil, dry cherry, good grip on gums, acid present, bitter coffee into finish. Came together.

At 3 hours: Heavier, more concentrated, dark fruit, cherry, savory, dark chocolate, wow, very good and an enjoyable finish. 

At 4 hours: Silky, dry, dark cherry, smoky, vanilla, tea, chocolate. My speed. Showed well.

Day two: Inky purple color. Big time fruit and coffee/chocolate on the  nose, blackberry, blueberry, lovers breath, floral, white pepper, cherry - gorgeous. Dark and luscious, blueberry, blackberry, tar, cola, orange, tobacco, round mid-palate with pleasant weight, super fine tannin, graphite coating on the finish. Hint of heat. Drink me. Thankful I saved enough for two glasses.

Thoughts: 2012 featured near perfect growing conditions according to many Washington growers and winemakers. The 2012 vintage is starting to show well. Definitely less fruit that some of the tasters did not appreciate. Most of us rated this wine a "Buy." Still developing in bottle, decant if you drink now, suspect this will improve in bottle as it showed well at the 3-4 hour window. Fantastic on the second day, even with a little heat. Terrific value. Recommended.

Another fun and engaging wine tasting with friends. Thank you Sean!

Blend: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot
Vineyards: Baachus Vineyard, Elephant Mountain Vineyard, Lonesome Springs Vineyard, Pepper Bridge Vineyard, Mirage Vineyard, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Seven Hills Vineyard
Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 14.3%
Richard Funk, Winemaker/Owner
Production: 3,659 cases
SRP: $18
Paid: $16.99

Saviah Cellars
1979 J B George Rd, Walla Walla, WA 99362
Phone: (509) 522-2181

In 2000, Saviah Cellars was established and produced its first commercial vintage of just 300 cases. Today the winery produces 18,000 cases. Add them to your list.


Conversations with Friends, "My Favorite Wine" on the Wine Muse Podcast #winemuse plus a review of a'Maurice Cellars Syrah/Grenache

Companion Post for The Wine Muse February Podcast

There are so many wines and so little time, how do you know where to start?  The Wine Muse hosts Linda Rez and William Pollard invited four wine industry experts to the #ThirdThursday #WineMuse show to share their sentiments about their favorite wine LIVE.

Linda and I each brought or own bottle of wine for this show. Naturally, I brought a Washington Syrah from one of my favorite wineries, a'Maurice Cellars of Walla Walla. Linda had a bottle of Townshend Cellar Washington Reserve Red. This was one of our favorite podcasts. Time went far too quickly as our guests shared their thoughts about what the topic of "favorite wine" meant to them. We were quite taken with our guests, we want to invite each of them back again. And we'll allow more time for each of them.

Below is a list of our guests with their bios and links to their sites. I have also included tasting notes for the wine I tasted, the 2008 a'Maurice Cellars Syrah-Grenache.

There are not enough kind words to share about our talented guests, a huge thank you to each of you. My best advice is to listen to the podcast and enjoy the show.

As James the Wine Guy said, "Peace through wine."

- Cheers!

Guest List

Tina Morey 
Tina is from Protocol Wine Studios, she is a Certified Sommelier working on her Master of Wine. A self-described "wine peddler", Tina curates for the wine subscription services Le Metro Wine and Protocol wine studio. She has an educational online program of the same name, #WineStudio.
Favorite: Italy.
"Although quite the idealist, I do extol the notion of “it is what it is,” especially true for wine. I’ve always been in the food business, studying first as pastry chef and directing my own wedding cake company then onto Certified Sommelier and now on the winding road to Master of Wine. Peddling wine is a heck of a lot of fun though, especially when working on our curated wine subscription service Le Metro Wine and  PROTOCOL wine studio, our parent company, houses our educational online program #WineStudio where we engage our brains and palates and overall PROTOCOL is the ideal wine think-tank that allows the continuation of our wine studies so that we may be wine industry advocates." - Tina Morey

James Melendez
James is known as, James The Wine Guy, was the National Food and Wine Marketing Manager at Cost Plus World Market, and he's been a writer and contributor to several online sites, as well as chief contributor at he reviews wines on his youtube channel.
Favorite: Republic of Macedonia.

James Melendez a resident of San Francisco for the past 17 years.  He received his undergraduate education from The University of New Mexico Albuquerque, New Mexico and attended graduated school at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota completing a degree in Philanthropy and Development.  James has been a devotee of Vitis vinifera for quite sometime.  He worked at Cost Plus World Market as the National Food and Wine Marketing Manager; James has been a writer and contributor to several online sites well as chief contribution to James the Wine since 2006 and has published over 2,000 videos on his YouTube channel.  James has also created a taxonomy on Vitis vinifera and other wine grapes species.

Frank Morgan
Frank is the author of the DrinkWhatYouLike wine blog that chronicles his travel experiences and shares the wine news in Virginia. His site was recently named one of the top wine news blogs.  He also contributes at the local broadcasting station, Snooth, and several wine magazines.
Favorite: Loire Valley, France.
A Virginia native, Frank Morgan works in the Legal and Data Privacy group of a global aerospace company by day.  He is the author of the DrinkWhatYouLike wine blog, started six years ago to chronicle his wine travel experiences and to share stories of the wines, wineries, and winegrowers of Virginia.  His site was recently named one of the top wine news blogs by Millesima.  Morgan is also a contributor for local public broadcasting station, the wine site Snooth, writes a regular column for the Virginia Vineyards Association newsletter, and is the contributing editor of Virginia Wine Lover Magazine. Frank also hosts virtual wine tastings featuring Virginia Wine.

April Yap-Hennig
April is from The Sacred Drop she is a Certified Sommelier and holds a Masters in Viticulture and Enology from the University of La Rioja, Spain, and an MBA from Purdue University.  She's lived all around the world and is currently in Oregon working as Director of Marketing and Hospitality as well as a wine and travel writer for
Favorite: Rioja Alta, Spain.

April was born in Utah, raised in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador and has lived and worked in The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. Her love of wine started when she studied in La Rioja, Spain during her undergraduate studies. This is where she fell in love with the country, the region, the people, the culture, and finally the wine. Thus changing her life and eventually her career.  She is forging a new future in Oregon as our Director of Marketing and Hospitality as well as a wine and travel writer for

Photos of our February guests.

James the Wine Guy at Montinore Estate, Oregon.
April Yap-Hennig posing with me in Penticton, BC.

James and April taking wine photos in Oregon Wine Country.
Tina Morey in Virginia Wine Country.
Sitting next to Frank Morgan in Raleigh, NC (left side).


My Favorite Wine - a'Maurice Cellars 2008 Syrah/Grenache

Usually I drink a'Maurice Cellars wines and neglect the tasting notes. It was a fun change of pace to take notes as I sipped and savored this wine. A first. Linda and I had a wonderful conversation with a'Maurice Cellars winemaker last year, I hope you have time to listen to her too.
Tasting Notes:

Color: Dark plum core, violet rim.
Nose: Rich, dark, spicy plum, bacon fat, blackberry, blueberry, white pepper.
Palate: Pow with the fruit, focused mid-palate, fresh, violets, blueberry, grape hard candy, cola, light coffee, smooth fine tannin on tongue, polished. Encouraging opening. Like.

After 15 minutes: Gorgeous dark color. Aromas of violets, bacon fat, anise, mint, sandal wood. Excellent mouth feel, sandal wood, blueberry, clove, mint, gentle grip on the gums, friendly acid across the tongue.

After 30 minutes: A little brown sugar.
After an hour: Lovely fruit with violets, a drinking wine.
After 3 hours: Luscious, dark fruit, tar, green tea, licorice, brown sugar, vanilla, violets, lively on the tongue, dark chocolate, cherry, ginger bread, cola, tannin more prominent on the gums, dry on the long tasty finish. Would be excellent with Filet Mignon or Leg of Lamb.
After 5 hours: This wine was stunning. My tongue was inky black as I savored the last glass of this delicious Washington Syrah. Well done, well done.

Thoughts: Opened this bottle for The Wine Muse February podcast, "My favorite wine." I wanted to share my thoughts and bias towards Washington Syrah and winemaker Anna Schaffer. This was not the current vintage, 2010 and 2011 are current. Strongly Recommended.

Vineyards: Boushey, Lewis, a'Maurice Estate, Minick
Blend: 88% Syrah, 12% Grenache
Whole cluster fermentation
100% French oak 10% new, 12 months
Unfined and unfiltered
ABV: 14.1%
Closure: Natural cork
Winemaker Anna Schafer
SRP: $34
Produciton 231 cases

àMaurice Cellars
178 Vineyard Lane
Walla Walla, WA 99362
twitter: @amauricecellars

Related Post: a'Maurice Cellars 2009 Malbec Washingtons Best Malbec 

My Wine Muse February podcast configuration.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wine of the Week -Dunham Cellars 2011 Trutina Columbia Valley @dunhamcellars


"Drink me." Alice never had it so good.

This is a wine we often serve at home parties. We drink it, so I never have a chance to review a bottle. This week I took time for tasting notes and reflection. Glad I did, and I discovered it is popular with many friends. I'll have to buy more for the next party.

“The Mad Hatter: "Would you like some wine?"
Alice: "Yes..."
The Mad Hatter: "We haven't any and you're too young.” 
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


Tasting Notes Dunham Cellars 2011 Trutina:

Color: Plum red/purple.
Nose: Earthy cherry, nice spike of violets, pencil, white pepper, rose petal.
Palate: Lovely at first taste, fluid cherry cordial, root beer hard candy, orange zest in background, lifted finish, graceful. Big Like.

After 15 minutes: Black cherry, brown sugar, pepper mill, ginger bread, root beer, orange cordial aromas. Cherry cordial, delicate tannin on the tongue and gums, vanilla, brown sugar/caramel, blueberry, with longer finish. Big Like.

After 30 minutes: Fantastic nose! My speed, mix of dark concentrated fruit, ginger bread/graham cracker, pepper mill/chocolate nibs, finely ground coffee, popcorn. Dark fruit flavor, cherry, coffee, chocolate, orange zest, tannin more present on tongue and gums, note of tamarind, pleasant tingle on tongue, medium finish.

After four hours: Cherry, raspberry, fruitcake vibe, graphite, polished, fine apple tannin, tasty dry finish, coffee, dark chocolate, plum, soy, Australian black licorice. Well done.

Day two: Managed to save 1/2 glass of wine for the second day. Marvelous! Lovely dark fruit, rich, pleasantly dry, earthy, chocolaty, vibrant, mouth pleasing with delectable tannin on the tongue and gums. Big Like.


Thoughts: Buy me drink me. I suppose you could cellar this vintage for another 5 years. Why wait? It is wonderful today! Strongly Recommended + Wine of the Week.

Winemakers: Eric Dunham and Daniel Wampfler
Vineyards: Lewis Estate Vineyard, Phinny Hill Vineyard, Yellowbird Vineyard, Tokar Vineyard, Wallula Vineyard, Kenny Hill Estate Vineyard
Blend: 57% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 14.1%
SRP: $29

Dunham Cellars is located near the foothills of the Blue Mountains
150 E. Boeing Avenue, Walla Walla, Washington 99362
Phone 509.529.4685

She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small.
And so she changed, while other folks
Never tried nothin' at all.” 
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein
Food and wine for thought.

Note: This is not the current vintage but it is still available in stores where I live. The 2012 Trutina is the current vintage and receiving positive feedback. I'd check them both out.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sensory Training with Enologist Hillary Sjolund @sonoriswines


Taking my nose in for an alignment at Fidelitas.

Last night, Enologist and wine instructor Hillary Sjolund was at Fidelitas Winery on Red Mountain. She was leading a sensory session focusing on identifying aromas in wine. I arrived just as the sun set behind the Horse Heaven Hills.

A key part of describing wine is accurately describing what you smell. Taste and smell are inextricably intertwined. Accuracy of describing smells is important to the wine consumer, but critical to the wine professional. Ms. Sjolund lead us through a sensory exercise practiced by those studying wine.

Hillary Sjolund guiding us through the sensory session.

I've practiced similar exercises in different environments focusing on smell and taste. At this session we focused only on smells/aromas. As Hillary emphasized, it is important to agree on descriptors. A common vocabulary is essential to those growing grapes and making wine. For someone writing about and describing wine, it is a practical and important exercise.

Smelling wine and describing aromas in wine, requires not only a good nose, but an ability to visualize and connect that smell with actual things like cherry, butter, toast, campfire, etc. There are aromas in white and red wines which are common to grape variety, oak program, winemaking technique, faults, flaws, region of the AVA and location in the world. Some smells are good, some not so much.

Identifying aromas in the white wine.

There are core aromas common to white wines and aromas common to red wines. These are part of the wine sensory standards. Hillary had 11 white wines and 11 red wines, each wine was flavored with ingredients found at the local grocer. We had to smell each wine and identify the dominant aroma we smelled. Which is more difficult than you may think. How did I do? I've highlighted in bold the properly identified aromas. Yep, about 50/50.

White Wine Sensory Standards

Honeydew melon
Bell Pepper

Red Wine Sensory Standards

Strawberry Jam
Bell Pepper
Black Pepper

What's interesting about this exercise, after I knew what was in the wine, it was easy to identify the aromas I missed. The strawberry jam in the red wine I misidentified because I associated the smell with ice cream - I like to eat ice cream with strawberry jam! I'm usually good at identifying bell pepper in red wine, because it's a green/unripe aroma that stands out. Not last night. While I correctly identified Clove in the red wine, I did not in the white wine. Context is important, out of context is important too. Maybe a bit out of alignment.

Hillary mentioned that part of the problem identifying the red fruit aromas, was likely because the fruit is out of season, so not as aromatic. But still a good exercise because aromas vary in intensity.

Custom sensory kit made in the morning.

This was a fun and instructive session. Hillary made the wine samples in the morning with little jars filled with inexpensive, low alcohol wine and ingredients purchased at the grocery store. An affordable way to make your own sensory kit at home.

Over time, I have found an approach for tasting, describing and reviewing wine which works best for me, my nose and mouth. One bottle of wine, by myself, in a quiet room. I've also learned that sometimes I can't properly taste or smell wine. I have off days. For me, this sensory session was like taking the car to the shop for an alignment. It was wandering a bit. My nose is perhaps better aligned today. I think I'll make my own wine sensory kit at home and test myself again. Hillary suggested to take it a step further, cover up what is in the container and identify the aromas without seeing the wine.

Pouring Fidelitas wines for aroma identification and tasting.

Afterwards we sampled and described several delicious Fidelitas Wines:

  • Optu White 
  • 2012 Red Mountain Merlot
  • 2012 Optu Red
  • Malbec
  • 2010 Ciel du Cheval 

If you are not on the Fidelitas email list, or following them on facebook and twitter, I strongly recommend you do. They are known by me for offering exclusive wine tastings at their Red Mountain and Woodinville tasting rooms. Don't miss out on their next special tasting. That's how I found out.

Fidelitas Red Mountain Tasting Room
Fidelitas on Red Mountain is open 11am to 5pm.
51810 N. Sunset Road, Benton City, WA 99320

Hillary Sjolund discussing finer points of oak derived aromas.

About Hillary Sjolund and Sonoris Wines LLC

Hillary Sjolund is the owner and winemaker for Sonoris Wines. A native of California, Hillary graduated with a degree in Fermentation Science from UC Davis and got her start in the wine industry as a harvest intern at Pine Ridge Winery in Napa. She spent time working harvest in Chile in 2003 and returned to Pine Ridge as assistant winemaker. Hillary moved to Washington State in 2006 and became winemaker for DiStefano Winery in Woodinville. In January, Hillary left DiStefano to focus full-time on her own Sonoris Wines. She purchased her first Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Blue Mountain Vineyard in Walla Walla in 2008. From those grapes, she made her first Sonoris wine, “Burney’s Blend” named for her grandfather.

"Sonoris was created in honor of my parents and grandparents. Their unwavering strength, resilience, dedication, and love resonated within me, and have directed my passion in winemaking. The first label I created was of my Grandfather, Burney Sjolund. He started our family business on the Mendocino Coast of CA in 1945. He was without a doubt the most determined man I ever knew. Burney’s Blend was created as a reflection of that determination and entrepreneurial spirit. On Thursday December 11th, at the age of 99, he peacefully passed away. It is with great pride that I raise a glass of Burney’s Blend to celebrate a life well lived. Saluté Gramps!" Hillary Sjolund

Take a Class Taught by Hillary

As an instructor, Hillary also teaches enology classes via VESTA the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance. These are degree and certification programs offered online. VESTA is a National Science Foundation funded partnership between the Missouri State University system and colleges, universities, vineyards and wineries across the United States.

VESTA serves as a pathway for individuals interested in certificated training in viticulture, enology and wine business entrepreneurship.  In addition, students interested in progressing to an Associates Degree of Applied Science may utilize the courses of VESTA in conjunction with general education courses taken through an Alliance member institution or at a local college.

Thank you Hillary and Fidelitas Wines. Well done.

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