Thursday VinopolPick 12-7-17

New Champagnes in the House; Spectator Reviews Cantina del Pino; Corton—Burgundy’s Hill of Power; Staff Pick; Cristoffel’s Red Slate Masterpieces; New Westrey Releases; Late Breaking Lafage Miraflors

New Champagne Arrivals


In the world of Champagne, the wines from R.H. Coutier offer a remarkable combination of affordability and seriousness, as well as some of the coolest looking labels in the region (which, of course, we don’t care about, because we drink what’s inside the bottle…but still).Coutier makes wines solely from estate holdings in the village of Ambonnay. Rated Grand Cru, Ambonnay is located in the Grande Montagne de Reims and is regarded as one of the best places to grow Pinot Noir in Champagne.  As a result, wines from the village, including those of Coutier, tend to have a lot of power and richness.  Where Coutier is special, though, is in their holdings of Chardonnay (also from Ambonnay) which provides a delicacy that sometimes is lacking in wines from the commune. The house style and vinification techniques also seek to provide as much elegance as possible to marry with the fruit of the terroir. All of their wines represent excellent value and have great verve and personality.

R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $33 special
Case-12 R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($499.95) $379 special (that’s only $31.58/bottle!)
Importer note
“Produced entirely from Grand Cru grapes from the village of Ambonnay, this stunning Brut Tradition shows rich, leesy fruit obtained through extended bottle aging prior to disgorging. Quite vinous in texture, it is full and long with crisp apple fruit notes on the finish and showing some toasty notes in the nose. Very low dosage levels allow the great Ambonnay fruit to shine.”

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The average price is $42
R.H. Coutier Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $35.80 special
Case-12 R.H. Coutier Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($499.95) $399 special (that’s only $33.25/bottle!)
Importer note
“This fine Champagne produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes from the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay is definitely a rarity as this village is known almost exclusively for its Pinot Noir based wines. The golden color with feint hints of green belie the high-toned nature of this fine wine. The nose shows classic apples and white stone fruit blossoms tinged with citrus. A creamy texture with fresh mineral tones and floral notes round out the racy acidity that follow. Very classy stuff…”
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The average price is $42
R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, Champagne 2008 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Case-12 R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, Champagne 2008 750ML ($719.95) $519 special (that’s only $43.25/bottle!)
Antonio Galloni 93 points
“Coutier’s 2008 Brut Grand Cru is interesting to taste next to the Grands Vintages. Here the brightness, focus and tension of the 2008 vintage are front and center. Lemon peel, white, flowers, mint and chalky notes infuse this bright, finely sculpted Champagne. The interplay of Ambonnay Pinot with Chardonnay, along with the chiseled style of the year adds up a compelling and absolutely delicious bottle of Champagne. I very much like the sense of energy here.”
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The average price is $60
Gaston Chiquet
“This is one of the finest grower estates in the Grande Vallée de la Marne. Chiquet’s wines combine a generous depth of fruit with a pronounced character of place—if you want to know what the wines of the Grand Vallée should feel like, these are an excellent introduction. Chiquet’s wines generally show well young, thanks to the forward fruitiness of their Marne terroirs. Yet with their balance and depth they can also age extremely well, even the non-vintage Brut Tradition, as I’ve seen from several old examples dating all the way back to 1964.” – Peter LiemGaston Chiquet Special Club Grand Cru Brut Millesime, Champagne 2009 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
Wine Spectator 92 points “Hints of brioche and marzipan accent glazed apple and candied ginger notes in this round and creamy Champagne. Vivacious acidity keeps this fresh and focused, leading to a lingering finish of smoke and spice. Disgorged September 2016. Drink now through 2024. 100 cases imported.”

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The average price is $74
Gaston Chiquet Carte Verte Premier Cru Brut Tradition, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Disgorged May 2017
Gaston Chiquet Carte Verte Premier Cru Brut Tradition, Champagne NV 375ML ($31.95)
$24 special
Disgorged September 2016
Wine Spectator 91 points
“[Reviewed Nov 2017] There’s a crunchiness to the texture and acidic frame of this lively Champagne. Balanced overall, offering flavors of Anjou pear, star anise and lemon curd underscored by minerally chalk and smoke accents. Drink now through 2020. 1,100 cases imported.”
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Also Just Arrived
Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
#87 Wine Of The Year – Wine Spectator Top 100 2017
Wine Spectator 92 points “[Reviewed November 2017] A bright, finely meshed version that shows beautiful harmony throughout, offering flavors of Gala apple, spring forest, almond pastry and lemon curd riding the creamy mousse. Lasting, spiced finish. Drink now through 2022. 1,300 cases imported.”
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Vilmart & Cie ‘Coeur de Cuvee’ Premier Cru Brut, Champagne 2009 750ML ($149.95) $126 special
Antonio Galloni 94 points “A racy, exuberant wine, the 2009 Coeur de Cuvée offers up a super-appealing mélange of apricot, butter, baked apple tart and vanillin. The combination of the ripe, warm vintage along with fermentation and aging in small French oak barrels yielded an especially opulent Coeur de Cuvée with plenty of exotic and tropical overtones. The 2009 will be ready to drink with minimal cellaring.”Aubry ‘Ivoire et Ebene’ Premier Cru Brut, Champagne 2012 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special
Importer Note “50% Chardonnay 25% Pinot Noir 25% Meunier from Premier Cru vineyards in Jouy-lès-Reims.  Fermented and aged in Stainless Steel, it ages 48 months sur latte before disgorgement.”

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Bereche et Fils Reflet d’Antan Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($119.95) $96 special
Lot 2012RD1216
Disgorged 12/2016 – 6g/L

New Wine Spectator Review

Barbaresco Edition
Cantina del Pino Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont 2013 750ML ($41.95) $33 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 93 points
“Ripe and round, this red reveals cherry, earth, underbrush and tobacco aromas and flavors. Should find equilibrium once all the elements come together. Best from 2020 through 2033.”
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The average price is $43
Corton: Burgundy’s Hill of Power

Stellar Values In Burgundies Finest Wines

The hill of Corton might be the most recognizable geographic feature in Burgundy.  Rising out of the gap in the Cote between Nuits and Savigny, the wines grown there exist in their own realm—neither Cote de Nuits or Beaune, but rather resolutely Corton.  Whether white or red, there’s an ineffable signature of the terroir that couldn’t come from any other place in Burgundy.Fundamentally, the wines from the hill of Corton are powerful.  There’s no getting around that—if you’re looking for delicate textures and elegant fruit flavors, young Corton is not the place to go.  Instead, the you get wines whose personality seems barely bound up by the liquid it’s in.  Corton resonates with lots of fruit, earth and spice (along with lots of tannin in the reds), coming at you in waves to a degree that it can nearly be overwhelming—at least young.

With age, though, what was overwhelming becomes sublime.  Tannins fade into length on the palate and it seems as though the flavors stretch out, as well, revealing themselves in waves that go from too much to a transcendent experience.   There’s a reason that when Domaine Romanée Conti expanded outside their home village of Vosne-Romanée, they added Corton to their legendary stable of Grand Crus.

Given all this, you’d expect the reds of Corton to be stratospherically expensive—but they aren’t (at least by Burgundy standards).  DRC’s version has the vinous equivalent of a Hermes tag on it, sure, but you can find reds from other great producers for less than highly regarded premier crus up and down the Cote d’ Or, never mind the Grand Crus in their league.  (Corton-Charlemagne, unfortunately, seems to be appropriately priced.)

Why?  Well, time is a big reason.  Red Corton can be a bit much young and great bottlings seem to be immortal—these are wines to put away and forget about for a while.  Unlike something seductive from Volnay or Chambolle, these are wines that can be a bit rough and tumble in their youth and need a number of years to reach their full potential.  If you have time, though—these are the best deals in Burgundy.


Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2014 750ML ($279.95) $229 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 96 points
“A fresh white, exuding lemon tart, apple, peach and toasted spice flavors. Elegant and racy, firming up on the stony finish and echoing notes of citrus and spice. Shows terrific focus and precision on the long aftertaste. Best from 2019 through 2032.”

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Domaine de Montille Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2014 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 3 bottles in stock now
Stephen Tanzer–Vinous 92-94 points
“Pale, green-tinged yellow. Exhilarating aromas of apple, spearmint, nutmeg and five-spice powder; less reduced on the nose than the Cailleret. Very suave and fine-grained, with soil-driven flavors of fleur de sel, mint and lavender. At once stuffed with material and weightless, finishing very long and dry. About 40% of this wine is from young vines in de Montille’s recently replanted Pougets, from which he formerly made red wine.”
Burghound 92-94 points “An ultra-pure and fresh nose of green apple, spiced pear and citrus blossom gracefully slides into overtly stony and powerful broad-shouldered flavors that despite their significant size and weight, are crystalline in their transparency on the superbly long and well-balanced finale. This is most impressive and very clearly built-to-age so note well that this is definitely going to require some patience.”Reds:

Domaine Faiveley Corton ‘Clos des Cortons’ Faiveley Monopole Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2011 750ML ($179.95) $149 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 95 points
“Faiveley’s 2011 Corton Clos des Corton is a fitting conclusion to this great night of wine and food. Intensely saline and pointed, the 2011 impresses for its pure energy and tension. The flavors are vibrant and impeccably delineated in a Burgundy that is all about finesse. This is a great showing from the Clos des Corton.” AG
Stephen Tanzer 94 points “Medium red.  Ineffable nose and palate offer red fruits, minerals, spices and flowers, complicated by game, earth and leather.  Sweet, concentrated and very intense, boasting outstanding density and a fine-grained texture, with salty minerality giving the wine a weightless impression that’s remarkable considering its density.  A strong tannic spine and brisk acidity energize and draw out the finish of this sharply delineated, pristine grand cru.” ST

Louis Latour Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2009 750ML ($149.95) $119 special, 21 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 94 points
“A tangy red with sliced apple, citrus, plum, chocolate, and fresh herb. Full to medium body, beautiful core of fruit and a bright finish. Chewy and polished. Tight now. Give this time. Drink or hold.”

Louis Latour Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2010 750ML ($149.95) $119 special, 14 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 95 points
“Bright and intense with blackberry, blueberry, and lemon rind. Full-bodied, yet tight with tannin tension and form. Mineral and Asian mushroom too, plus a bright finish. Just about ready. Love tasting this.”
Wine Enthusiast 93 points “A firm, powerful wine, its tannins still very dominant. Acidity is a factor, along with deep red-plum fruit. Some sweetness will develop in the next several years, although this concentrated and complex wine will also have a solid core of dry, structured tannin. Age for at least five years.”

Domaine de la Pousse d’Or Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2011 750ML ($119.95) $99 special, 13 bottles in stock now
Burghound 93 point
s “This trades elegance for greater complexity with its broad ranging aromas of spicy and pungently earth black berry fruit liqueur, black tea and intensely animale suffused nose. There is excellent size, weight and power to the big and well-muscled flavors that possess plenty of supporting dry extract that coats the palate on the driving, even explosive finish. This should abundantly repay mid to longer-term cellaring.” BH

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Staff Pick: Petalos Power

Don’t forget the Spanish wines! The reds especially are some of the most reliable crowd pleasers with rich and relatable fruit, fullness and just the right structure. Yet I find they are often a little more elegant and restrained compared to some of their domestic counterparts in a similar style. The Palacios family has strong roots as winemakers; uncle Alvaro Palacios, having trained in Bordeaux and established himself as a strong presence in Priorat, joined his nephew Ricardo Perez in Corrulon to help make this project happen. The Petalos 2014 certainly delivers the quality and affordability we hope for from Spain, probably the best value wine coming out of Bierzo right now, possibly even Spain altogether. At $18 per bottle and our $199 case price, this wine is a great choice for holiday parties.Descendientes de J. Palacios ‘Petalos’, Bierzo 2014 750ML ($24.95) $18 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-12 Descendientes de J. Palacios ‘Petalos’, Bierzo 2014 750ML ($269.95)
$199 special (that’s only $16.58/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 93 points
“The 2014 Pétalos del Bierzo was already up for tasting as they sell the wine quite quickly even if the volumes are not small, but the wine had only been in bottle for one week and it might have been a little closed, especially when compared with the aromatic 2013. However, the aromas, if subtle, are phenomenal, very complete and balanced, with an extra degree of complexity when compared with the 2013. The harvest was a little healthier without being easy (or dry). There is great volume in the palate, fleshy, juicy and rich without being heavy, medium-bodied, somehow similar to the 2012 even if it still needs to develop further complexity. There’s always a subdued minerality, a texture and mouthfeel difficult to find in wines of this price level. This is approachable now, but it will be better in one year and should develop nicely in bottle. Drink: 2016-2022.”

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Cristoffel’s Brilliant Red-Sate Riesling

The Christoffel family has produced wine since the 17th century in Germany.  Today, Hans Leo Christoffel leases vineyard management to Robert Eymael of the Monchhof estate.  There are just 4 hectares of vines in Ürziger Würzgarten and Erdener Treppchen, prized sites recognized for their quality for over 1000 years.  Many of these plantings are over 100 years old and are ungrafted and on their original rootstock.  Production is at tiny levels—some of the wines we’re offering today had fewer than 10 cases imported to the US.Ürziger Würzgarten or the ‘spice garden’ is known for producing spicy wines from the steep, iron-rich red slate vineyard.  Erdener Treppchen slops southward, allowing long stretches of exposure. The soil comprises of deep layers of iron-infused slate, steeply terraced from the river’s banks up to the rough and rocky summit of nearby hills. The vineyard’s terrain inspired the name, based off of ‘treppe’, or ‘staircase’, in German.

Recently, the winery has used the star system to indicate specific parcels that are vinified and bottled separately.  Wines are pressed whole-cluster, cool-fermented in large wooden casks, and allowed to rest on the fine lees for a brief time before early bottling. Additionally, they’re one of the growing numbers of producers who have gone back to using the cadaster names from the 19th century (and earlier) to designate micro-parcels in each vineyard.

These wines are marked by brilliant clarity, structure, and balance. Vines benefit greatly from the iron- rich soils, with resultant wines brimming with minerality and well-aligned acidity. They’ve always been wines for aging, so luckily we’re able to offer a few with a couple of years of bottle age on them (though feel free to hide them further).

Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese, Mosel 2013 750ML ($39.95) $29 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 90 points
“Shows a raciness to the pure-tasting flavors of fresh-cut green apple and white currant, with grapefruit accents. Hints of mustard greens show on the richly spiced finish. Drink now through 2034. 35 cases imported.” WS

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Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese** “Herzlay,” Mosel 2012 750ML ($69.95) $49 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Terry Theise:
“That suffix “Lay” is local dialect for slate. This is from an old ungrafted parcel among the cliffs, and the wine has its usual swollen mass, firm richness and length. I’m glad of the relatively moderate sweetness; it thins the hugeness of fruit and makes it tinkle down the palate in snaky rivulets of salty terroir and tart apple. Also a sponti.”
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Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese** “Herzlay,” Mosel 2013 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 90 points
“Offers lots of pastry puff notes to the airy peach and melon flavors. Spicy and lush, with a pillowy finish that lingers with dried ginger accents. A delicate style. Drink now through 2038. 5 cases imported.” WS
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Joh. Jos. Christoffel Riesling Estate Feinherb, Mosel 2012 750ML ($24.95) $19 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 88 points
“An enticing note of white chocolate runs through this lush, fruity white. Ripe tangerine flavors linger on the finish, giving this an exotic appeal. Drink now through 2016.” WS
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Joh. Jos. Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Auslese* “Kauen,” Mosel 2012 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Terry Theise:
“We’re making a change in labeling. When we did stars – 1-star, 2-star, 3-star – it tended to create a false hierarchy, and led buyers to suppose they had to have the “best” one or the bullies would kick sand in their faces. So now we’re going to use the actual micro-parcel name, because the wines do in fact hail from single small pieces of land. It’s more informative, more truthful. This parcel is way up in the most forbidding terraces, and its wines have a kind of para-sensual slate expression, a sonnet of the rocks. It’ll buzz your fillings, this wine.”
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Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Auslese***, Mosel 2011 750ML ($79.95) $69 special, 4 bottles in stock now
Stephen Tanzer 94 points
“Golden yellow.  Scents of apple blossom, white raisin and quince are given depth by honeyed botrytis on the nose.  Rich, candied papaya fruit shows a velvety texture, but minty acidity keeps the palate fresh.  At once dense and light on its feet, with mineral salts providing spice on the long, elegant finish.  This will need time to reveal its full potential.” ST
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Joh. Jos. Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Auslese*** ‘Kranklay,’ Mosel 2013 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Terry Theise notes:
“This parcel is below the sundial, spreading to either side, down where the slate is more crumbled and the wines have more finesse. This transparent delicacy is prized, bless them, above all other things such as ripeness or power. But this ’13 is a typically dark and brooding, at least today. It tastes like it’s encased in a crust of salt, fruit in a tiny dense kernel, waiting to pop.”
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New Westrey Releases!
If you asked your favorite winemaker in the Willamette Valley who their favorite wineries were, chances are that Westrey would come up a lot.  Amy Wesselman (the Wes) and David Autrey (the trey) have been crafting some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Oregon since 1993 and we get excited every time we get to taste the new releases (or any library wines).The heart of Westrey’s wines is the Dundee Hills, where they work with fruit from the legendary Abbey Ridge vineyard as well as their own estate property, Oracle, which is next door.  Once the fruit is in the door, Amy and David tend to be pretty hands off, with minimal new oak usage and moderate ripeness.  The vineyard really shines through and these wines manage to be drinkable both now and to improve with time in the cellar.

Arriving Tomorrow:

Westrey Chardonnay Dundee Hills, Oregon 2016 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special

Westrey Oracle Vineyard Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills 2012 750ML ($34.95) $28 pre-arrival special
Winery Note “The 2012 blend includes 12% 35-year-old Pommard clone Pinot Noir, planted on its own roots in 1977. The remaining 66% is dominated by the Dijon 777 clone but has small percentages of five other Dijon clones.  With our 2001 planting (densly planted 777&115 on RG) in full production, coupled with the strong return of the old vine block, Oracle is now firmly entrenched in our winery.  All lots were fermented with indigenous yeast in open-top 1,500-liter fermentors. This thirty-four barrel lot was aged in six new barrels, six one year old, with the balance in neutral wood.  The wine displays the classic pure berry fruits (Marionberry, black current and red raspberry) and exceptional balance that the 2012 vintage produced from Oralce. After an indigenous malo-lactic fermentation, it was racked with inert gas in the spring of 2013, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered in September of 2013 after eleven months in oak.”

Westrey Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2009 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Library Release

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Westrey Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2012 750ML ($39.95) $33 pre-arrival special
Winery Note “The Reserve barrels were carefully chosen for their expression of their vineyard of origin and their aging potential.  In 2012 the wine started in the vineyard. Even with the strain of a long dry spell, one block of Dijon 667 stood out. Five barrels from this block were blended with two barrels of the old-vine Pommard and two barrels from our 777 block. The wine displays intense black raspberry, red current, and spice aromas.  These aromas are complemented by hints of black currents, vanilla sweetness, coffee from the oak, and a predominant floral character.  On the palate the wine is mouth-filling and supple, possessing rich fruit and enough acidity in the long finish to make a balanced and complete wine.  At harvest the individual lots were given an approximately five-day cold-soak prior to fermentation.  Each lot fermented separately with a combination of indigenous yeast and a commercial yeast imported from Burgundy.  The fermentation lasted an average of 18 days for each, and pressing occurred at dryness.  At pressing, the wine was sent directly to barrel to maintain a maximum amount of lees.  There it completed an indigenous malo-lactic fermentation.  In May it received an inert gas racking from barrel to barrel.  The finished wine was bottled in late April 2014, without fining or filtration, to allow the wine’s character to fully show through.  The 2012 blend was aged in 30% new wood and 10% one-year old, with the balance coming from neutral wood.”
Late Breaking NewsArriving Tomorrow: 2015 Bastide Miraflores

Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors, IGP Cotes Catalanes 2015 750ML ($17.95) $16 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 94 points “This wine is almost too good to be true. A blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache that was brought up in concrete tanks (Grenache) and demi-muids (Syrah), the 2015 Bastide Miraflors Vieilles Vignes reminded me of a mini Syrah from California’s Manfred Krankl (yes I just compared a $14 Syrah to Sine Qua Non). It’s a ripe, sexy, heady beauty that exhibits a deep, purple color as well as killer notes of smoked meats, chocolate, blackberry and black raspberries. Deep, unctuous, open knit and layered, it continues to change in the glass, has a seamless and silky profile, and not a hard edge to be found. It’s a sensational value that needs to be tasted to be believed. Drink it anytime over the coming 2-4 years.”
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