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The Merlot grape is a dark blue coloured grape identified by the loose bunches or large berries. It is not  quite as dark in colour as the Cabernet Sauvignon (a much more tannic varietal).

The Merlot is used as both a blending grape and as a varietal. The Merlot is a reasonably flexible grape; used with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

The origin of the name is thought to come from the Occitan language (Roman language spoken in the South of France) using ‘merlot’ meaning ‘young blackbird’ – perhaps referring to the colour. Also a connection with the French word ‘merle’ meaning thrushes, including blackbirds.

Blackbird

The Merlot wine has a medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. It is a softer wine that for some may be a good starter red wine, or something for those who aren’t too keen on the tannins. In Argentina, for example, the Merlot is slightly more acidic and tannic than in many other regions.

merlot color

As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 640,000 acres globally. This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon with 650,000 acres. Compared to the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot grapes tend to have less of a black/blue hue and usually thinner skin, thus fewer tannins unit per volume.

 

The most prominent region would be France, home to nearly two thirds of the world’s plantings of Merlot (sort of like Argentina and the Malbec!). Then Italy, California, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and parts of the United States.

Argentina is a new world wine region with production increasing in the Mendoza region. Argentine Merlots have shown tannic structure and acidity. Below is a breakdown of the number of acres of Merlot in Argentina;

Mendoza

12190.9

San Juan

1182.3

Río Negro

683.2

Neuquén

584.1

La Rioja

405

Catamarca

135.4

Salta

130.2

La Pampa

99.3

Córdoba

59.3

Chubut

19.7

Buenos Aires

15.3

Tucumán

12.3

Some names include: Santa Alicia Merlot, Mendoza Station Merlot Blend Merlot-Malbec, Cuvelier Los Andes Merlot, Luigi Bosca Merlot Reserva, Vina Cobos Merlot Felino, Bodegas Salentein Merlot and Navarro Correas Red Blend Structure Ultra.

Luigi Bosca Merlot Reserva

 

To pair with food, the flexibility and diversity of Merlot can be a great help. Try pairing these with a grilled and charred meat.


And enjoy!

 

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Buenos Aires nightlife has a worldwide fame, from bars of many different kinds to partying up until 8am, it seems like options never run out in BA.

So for all the party lovers here is a list of the top 10 bars to get a fancy cocktail regardless the time!

 

For a long night… Mundo Bizarro

 

Mundo Bizarro is also very well know for our unique ambience, music selection and visuals. MB is the home of Kustom Kulture and the Bizarre. If you dig the spirit of American Cocktail Lounges of the 40’s and 50’s, you found the place to get your “drink on” in Palermo viejo. This bar has been around since 1997, they have a wide menu with all classics and “custom creation”

cocktails by bartender extraordinaire Pablo Pignatta!



To enjoy the evening… Million

 

This beautiful bar is located in the heart of Recoleta, and it is a stunning Resto bar, with a little of a 20’s vibe. Opened in 1999 and the bar, built over 120 years ago, has an exquisite menu and all classics when it comes to cocketelerie, the house itself will take you all the way back to the past and you can enjoy every part of it, from some drinks at the garden, to a delightful brunch at the living room, perfect for a calm elegant evening!

Malbec, the flagship red wine of Argentina, achieves excellent wines and it is appreciated and recognized by consumers nationally and internationally. It has a tremendous fruit expression and very soft tannins. However, it is a very demanding grape in terms of region and crop management in order for it to reach its full potential.

I love malbec

Its origin is debated to this day but it has been proved genetically that it came from southwest France.  Though the exact region is still unknown, it is to believed to have started somewhere in Cahors, Bordeaux, Quercy or La Touraine. In this areas, it is most commonly known as “Cot” but it has over 400 hundred names, including Auxerrois, Cot de Bordeaux, Cahors, Pressac, Cot Noir and many others.

 

This varietal shows peculiarities which are due to the differences in climate and soil, plant genetic characteristics, vineyard management as well as the processing methods. The French Malbec grape is a thin-skinned grape and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah, as it ripens mid season and can bring very deep color, soft tannins, and a particular plum-like flavor. Sometimes, especially in traditional growing regions like France, it is not trellised and cultivated as bush vines. Here it is sometimes kept to a relatively low yield of about 6 tons per hectare.



As a varietal, Malbec creates a rather inky red (or violet), intense wine, so it is also commonly used in France to bulk up for other mixes, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. It has been long used as one of the five blending grapes in the red wines of Bordeaux, Malbec is difficult to ripen in cold years there, and is susceptible to damage by mildew and other “pressures” that may infect damp, densely planted vineyards.

In the Cahors region of southwest France, Malbec produces a more robust vine and is often vinified on its own. Known as the “black wine of Cahors” because of its very dark color, this Malbec can be offered as a varietal wine or used to add body and color, as mentioned before, in other blends.

The invasion of Phylloxera in French vineyards in the 19th Century greatly diminished the amount of Malbec planted there. The vine seems particularly sensitive to pests and disease. The “great freeze” that struck France in 1940 was another blow to Malbec. Since the frost killed 75 percent of the Malbec in the Medoc region, and growers replaced those vines with varieties which had more value in the marketplace.

 

From Europe to the New World…

Malbec came to Argentina in mid-nineteenth century (somewhere between the years 1852-1868) where it spread rapidly, it was introduced by french agronomist, Mr Michel Aime Pouget before the Phylloxera epidemic punished European vineyards. In Argentina, which was never subject to the epidemic, most of these vines grow on their own roots. But if escaping the blight of Phylloxera provided a start, the key reasons for the recent emergence of the grape are improvements both to viticulture and vinification. Producers have dramatically cut yields and replaced large old wood casks with oak barriques. They’ve taken more care in selecting appropriate planting sites, developing cooler, high altitude vineyards that benefit from warm days and cool nights. International consultants have arrived, too, imparting up-to-date knowledge about vinification techniques as well as a sense of what style of wines compete successfully in the international wine market.

 

Map of Europe

 

As soon as it came to Mendoza it was known as”The French Grape” although this name included other vines such as Tannat and Petite Verdot, and they were the most widespread grapes in Argentina.

 

The first growers planted the Malbec using the European tradition: six plants of malbec and one white variety of Semillon. Since a cut was produced, according to the ancient winemakers, this balanced the high concentration of color and took away the marked roughness provided by the tannins

 

During the ’80s, Argentina experienced a strong process of eradicating the vines of Malbec (especially the oldest, with more than half a century) which endangered the very existence of the strain, it was believed that the future was secured on the basis of a market scheme preventing high-yielding vines. But then, with the restructuring of the wine industry in the early 90s Malbec resurfaced implantation. Currently, the area planted with this variety is the world’s largest followed by France and the USA.

 

The origin of the Malbec name has also been in debate  for quite sometime. A theory suggests that the name was provide by the french term of “bad kiss” (Mal=bad, bec=kiss), but the most probable of the theories implies that Malbec was the name of the Hungarian vintner who spread the vine all around the South west of France, Monsieur Malbeck.

 

About the grape…

 

In the Patagonian south it is grown beside apple orchards and poplar trees which protect the vines from the wind. In Mendoza the conditions are much warmer and drier. Though the province’s low-lying vineyards are twice as high as Rio Negro’s, the style of Malbec produced is fairly soft and simple. Malbec is grown all through Salta to Patagonia, being the most widely produced grape of Argentina.

 

The Malbec color is a thick, lustrous, dark inky-black purple that almost stains the glass . Gooare often surprisingly floral and aromatic with a scents of plums and violets. This translates into sweet, well-rounded flavors on the tongue and sometimes a spicy edge softened by smooth, velvety tannins. The balance of fruit and tannin is what makes a top Malbec so perfect.

This wine is typically a medium to full-bodied, dry red wine with plenty of acidity and higher tannin and alcohol levels, topically but not necessarily.  It pairs very good with many types of food, but it is undeniable that it matches beautifully with juice steaks, Morrocan tajines and all sort of gamey meats being definitely a red meat wine but adaptable enough to stand up to spicy Indian, Mexican, Cajun or Italian fare, with preference given to barbecue, spices and hard to pair meat-driven dishes, Malbec is extremely food-friendly and ultra accommodating.

A wine you must try especially while visiting Argentina either in a wine tasting, or traditional “asado”, is a wine you must seat and enjoy no matter what…

When it comes to pairing food and wine, the secret lies in using all the right ingredients. We all know chocolate and wine are an amazing duo since both have complex flavors, notes, and have similar components and nuances in common. Find the right wine to complement the right chocolate and you will get a winning combo that proves there is a heaven somewhere to be found, and if it exists it´s filled with wine & chocolate. So here are some great tips for whenever you want to match these two gastronomy deities:

When pairing wines with chocolate, try to match light, subtle, elegant flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines. Likewise the stronger and bitter the chocolate gets, the more full-bodied the wine should be. The darker the chocolate the more tannins it will display. However, when you pair this darker chocolate with a wine that has stout tannins, the chocolate will often overshadow or cancel out the wine’s tannins on the palate and allow more fruit flavors show through the wine.

But also keep in mind that wine and chocolate  are not a straightforward pairing. Sometimes finding the best wine and chocolate combinations can take some time and a bit of experimenting as well. Remember palate impressions differ from person to person. And your individual perception can be very different from those you are tasting (and testing) with. For some they prefer the wine to be as sweet as the chocolate, for others they might want to find contrast/balance between the two.

White chocolates….
tend to be soft, mellow and buttery in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for a Sherry, Muscats or even a floral/fruity but dry wine like a Torrontes! These sweet wines will pick up the creaminess of the chocolates and the fruity dry ones will pick up any fruit tones on the scene. Another route, for pairing wine with white chocolate is going for the contrast pairing approach which is a little riskier, but when you find a match it can be exceptional. Take a wine like a Zinfandel or a Rose which tend to have a heavier acidic content and often a higher alcohol level, and partner it with a creamy, buttered white chocolate and you might experience an unusually exciting effect.

(Guest blog by Ashley)

There are several sites on the internet listing “things you must do while in Buenos Aires”. After 9 months here I have accomplished several including; 28. Sprinting across Av. 9 de Julio in one bolt, http://argentinastravel.com/549/9-de-julio-is-it-the-widest-street-in-the-world/

29.Spending an afternoon reading in Ateneo’s book store, http://www.flickr.com/photos/proserpina_/101350718/

30. Eating pizza from Guerrin on Av. Corrients etc http://www.pizzeria-guerrin.com.ar/

But even with all my time in Buenos Aires there were a few I had missed. It wasn’t until my boyfriend’s dad came to visit that was motivated to get out and cross of the last few experiences off my list. Thursday morning when Chip arrived, we walked around to 1.Plaza de Mayo http://www.flickr.com/photos/faw/38877372/ and up Av. de Mayo to Café Tortoni.

2.Café Tortoni http://www.cafetortoni.com.ar makes everyone’s list. I’d passed it with long lines of tourists waiting to get in. The interior of the space remained a mystery however, as all the windows are closed with heavy curtains.  We walked in and my jaw dropped, marble, wood, stained glass and waiters in tuxedos. We took a seat and ordered a3.traditional Argentine breakfast; 3 media lunas and café con leche. . http://www.akworld.net/webblog/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/cafe_con_leche.jpg

Afterwards we walked through our neighborhood of San Telmo and showed Chip a few of our favorite spots like 4. Plaza Dorrego http://akworld.net/BAweekly/?p=296 , and 5. Defensa Street  http://z.about.com/d/gaytravel/1/0/E/G/-/-/Defensa_Street_1.jpg before stopping in at his hotel. Later that afternoon the two headed for 6.Recoleta Cemeteryhttp://www.recoletacemetery.com/ another staple on the list. I stayed in to work, something that you should avoid at all costs if visiting BA.

7. La Cabrerra, BA’s most famous steak house. http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/central-and-south-america/argentina/buenos-aires/60725/la-cabrera/restaurant-detail.html , We heard the rumors. We read the reviews online. But nothing could prepare us for the monster cut of steak and smorgasbord of sides they put before us. We walked out with half a cow in a doggie bag. I recently read recently that Argentina has a per capita consumption of beef per year of 143 lbs. I am convinced La Cabrera has something to do with this. http://worldfocus.org/blog/2009/07/20/meat-lovers-mourn-argentinas-disappearing-beef/6393/

But no matter how much steak you eat there is always room for 8. Gelatto http://www.freddo.com.ar/ We tried to walk a bit of it off by passing 9.BA‘s narrowest house in San Telmohttp://image12.webshots.com/13/1/21/41/139512141XJERTP_fs.jpg

The next morning we woke early. I made crepes, delicious and not on the list but the 10. Dulce de Leche I filled them with is. We boarded the bus and headed for 11. The Mataderos street fair. http://www.gotraveltoargentina.com/argentina_flea_market.html Sadly death took on a new meaning in Mataderos as we took the 45 minute bus ride out to discover there was in fact no fair that day. We wandered a few blocks noting the roughness of the barrio; stray dogs, broken glass, cracked pavement and headed for the nearby safety of 12. a Hole in the wall parilla,http://www.akworld.net/webblog/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/parilla.jpg where we 13. ate asado and 14. drank Quilmes.  http://www.quilmes.com.ar/
On the way home Stu and his dad repeated # 8.

15. We napped. Naps are universal for all travel lists.
Around 6 we  went to 16. The MALBA
http://www.malba.org.ar/web/home.php for some modern art. On top of the permanent greats like Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera we swung to the top floor for a peculiar temporary exhibit.  We walked out scratching our heads as one should when leaving a modern art museum.

We walked around a bit before heading back to our place. We made the night extra special by opening Stu’s 17. Good bottle of wine, http://www.anuvawines.com/ the Las Perdices Don Juan. https://www.anuvawines.com/wine/blend/don-juan-reserve-blend-2006/ The boys taunted our kitten with  small scraps of cow from the night before.

For Chips last day in town we walked around 18. La Boca http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/South_America/Argentina/Distrito_Federal/Buenos_Aires-1541981/General_Tips-Buenos_Aires-La_Boca-BR-1.html , probably my least favorite on the list aside from 19. Dog poop. It continues to amaze me how exhausting two blocks can feel when you are harassed by people trying to sell you something. “No I don’t want to buy a pair of jeans for my dog. And no I would not like to “prove” a cup of coffee”.

From there we took a taxi for # 20Conversation in broken Spanish with a Porteno cabi- This one includes several parts or cannot be considered complete. You must talk about a) Politics, both Bush and Obama. b) asado and meat. c) Soccer and currently d) Michael Jackson. http://www.citytax.com.ar/flota-radiotaxi/laflota-radiotaxi8.jpg

We exited at 21. Plaza Serrano in Palermo. http://argentinastravel.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/plaza-serrano-feria.jpg The afternoon was spent walking around the neighborhood with a stop for lunch in one of the city’s top rated restaurants; Sarki’s. http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=48 We enjoyed some wine and excellent food. This place makes my list at # 22.

We continued walking and made our way through Alto Palermo and past the 23. The Pollo Fields.http://www.tomhopkinsstudio.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=4&p=0&a=0&at=0 We showed Chip the Anuva Head Quarters and experienced a rare phenomenon in this city, rain, not on the list.

Walking some more we all felt the need for a little caffeine. Stuart indirectly repeated #8 again with a coffee milk shake. We warmed our bones and relaxed a bit before splashing through the streets to La Cava Jufre.

We made reservations for a jazz concert and arrived early to snag the giant velvet couch. We ordered a terrific bottle of wine and waited for the show to start. We could not have asked for a better night. We enjoyed a Jazz quartet’s long set with the best seat in the house.

By 2 am we made it back to our apt. The 4 days flew by so quickly it felt weird to say good bye. But we felt proud for accomplishing so much. Next time we will have a few more things to cross off; including 24. Peruvian Chicken in Abasto, http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=2543 24. Wine Tasting https://www.anuvawines.com/wine-tasting/ and oh yeah maybe 25. Tango, http://minuet.dance.ohio-state.edu/~nicholas53/Images/Words/Passionate/tango2.jpg 26. Leather, and some http://animalsneedkisses.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/cow.jpg 27. Mate. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Mate_calabaza_fondo_blanco.jpg

Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil and especially Uruguay partake in the tradition of Yerba Mate. Just to be clear, there is no accent on the “e” of mate. It’s pronounced “MAH-tay” with the accent on the first syllable. Self-righteous marketers in the U.S. have begun putting an accent on the e of mate in order to differentiate it from the English word of the same spelling. A better solution would be to change the spelling altogether.

More to the point, sipping the herbal infusion tea mate is a very cultural, communal event. “Hacemos un mate”, is a catch phrase between friends that means much more than just getting together and having tea. Especially because of how this particular tea is consumed. The dry leaves (the yerba (herb) or hierba) are put into the mate (the thing you drink out of) and the “bombilla” (metal straw with built in filter) is inserted. Then the mate is filled repeatedly with hot (usually scalding in my opinion) water.

The Rules:

1. Everyone drinks out of the same mate. This for Americans espcially can be disconcerting at first since we have a very “this is my space, this is my property” attitude. I was this way as well: “Haven’t they ever thought about sharing germs!!” This is not the point. The process is:

  • The “cebador” (feeder) pours the first mate and drinks it or spits it out as it’s pretty strong. (This I also find hilarious as you will see that the rules below contradict the spitting of the first mate)
  • Then the cebador pours a mate for the first person in the group and they drink it, completely. That person then passes the mate back to the cebador.
  • The cebador then fills the mate again and passes it to the second person. They drink and pass back.
  • Saying “gracias” means that you are done drinking and do not want anymore and you will be skipped in the next rotation.

2. DO NOT, under any circumstances, move the bombilla. This is forbidden and will “wash” or spoil or spend the yerba. I have developed a theory around this called “The Conservation of Yerba” which is loosely based on physics principles like the Conservation of Mass and the Conservation of Energy.

3. DO NOT, under any circumstances, boil the water before “cebando” mate (cebar loosely means “to feed” but is only used when referring to mate) as this will also “wash” the yerba.

4. DO NOT, under any circumstances, add cold water to the mate itself. Even if it’s scalding hot (which it usually is) you just have to wait.

The flavor profile of yerba mate can best be described as bitter, strong, herbal and green. After all, it is an herb and it is, in fact, green. But once the taste is acquired, it can become quite a habit. In Uruguay especially, people have huge mates and walk down the street carrying them with their 1 Liter thermoses under their arms on the way to work.

Jan is Guy’s “Trouble in strife”. She has trouble with the “apples and pears” at times since she has arthritis. Right!

They hail from Winnipeg, Canada joined us for a wine tasting Thursday. They shared their plans to travel to Mendoza for a few days before taking a chauffer service through the Andes and into Chile. They had spent time in Bordeaux and enjoy learning about different wine regions. They recently became curious about Argentine wines.

Guy originally from central London shared a bit of Cockney slang. From within the sound of Bow Bells (St Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, London) came this clever rhyming dialect. I was delighted to hear Daniel and our guests converse. They explained that Cockney originated in order to speak freely in the presence of police or authorities.

According to http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk “Rhyming Slang phrases are derived from taking an expression which rhymes with a word and then using that expression instead of the word. For example the word “look” rhymes with “butcher’s hook”. In many cases the rhyming word is omitted – so you won’t find too many Londoners having a “bucher’s hook” at this site, but you might find a few having a “butcher’s”.”

During the tasting we experimented with different simple pairings. Crisp green apples topped with “dollops” of light whipped cheese paired perfectly with the Hom espumante. While a triad of chocolates brought out the multiple personalities of the Gran Reserva; fruit, smoky, vanilla, creamy velvety perfection.

Conversation drifted from wine and inhibitions over political correctness dropped away. Guy and Jan shared with us how well they had been treated traveling through Argentina and how accommodating the airports had been to their needs. Guy jested proposing a fictitious business plan for time saving service called “rent a cripple”. We are pretty sure it would be quite controversial and politically incorrect although perhaps an enormously successful business.

After recommending one of our favorite pizza places we bid our guests farewell. While cleaning up Daniel and I noted what a great evening it had been. Anuva is true to the real intention of wine; to relate to others. We use our wine tastings to learn about wine and meeting wonderful people from every corner of the globe in an intimate relaxed setting.

Our tasting last night in Buenos Aires had everyone focused on the nuances of the wine and the terroir. Terms like acidic, oily, fat, hard, harsh, tannic, round tannin, soft tannin, hard tannin, and so forth take so much time to understand because of their previous meanings to people, and the lack of the use of these terms as they pertain to wine. I love it though, when they really have a revelation about how they taste wine and what they like.

Abundantly apparent to me was the acidity in the Hom Espumante, the sweet apricot and white flower aroma of Anecon Torrontes, the blueberry pie (we like pie in wine) burst in Durigutti Bonarda, the tobacco and leather in Cavagnaro Malbec, and the alluring pleasure of Don Juan Reserve.

For all the guests, the Torrontés surprised, the ladies favored the Bonarda and the Reserve, and the gentlemen the Malbec and the Reserve.

The learning experience, as usual impressed me as well as our guests, who tell me that only the bottom of the barrel of Argentine wines arrive to the UK. I find that tremendously disappointing in the worlds most competitive wine market. I guess those of us promoting wine from Argentina must simply work harder to get the word out about the greatness that is produced here at the moment.

Most people equate all good wine coming out of Argentina with Mendoza. Perhaps if they are savvy with Salta also, but few know the wines of San Juan or have even heard of them. Strange that we found two Cabernet-Francs from San Juan (the province immediately north of Mendoza) that simply blew us away.

The first is from Vinos de los Andes, the same winery that brought you Anecon Torrontés from Salta (in the extreme North of Argentina). Beatriz Quiroga, the winemaker at Vinos de los Andes, was kind enough to share a bottle with us in the park when we went to visit her last week. It’s as if a layer of natural whipped cream with ripe red berries mixed in hovers over the top of this wine. A velvety mouthful of dark cherry and vanilla follows this delctible nose with a long finish that turns a bit more peppery. “Un vinasso!”

The other gem of a Cabernet-Franc from San Juan comes from our friend Pablo Lijtain, the owner of Finca Morera. Besides doing a fabulous oaked viognier (which is exclusive to Anuva) Pablo’s Cab-Franc stands out among all wines. Again, a rich butter-cream topping leads the nose with hints of vanilla extract. In the mouth, yellow cake batter and cream cheese frosting follow as do hints of red-fruit jam. “Un exito total!”

We at Anuva had yet another successful wine tasting in Buenos Aires. The attendance was strikingly international, complete with Sydney-sider, native Argentine, and a wonderful German couple.

The wines tasted, as well, were a big hit. The viticultural quintuplet began with the Anecon Torrontés from Vinos de los Andes. A smooth and flowery white wine, one of the German guests was surprised to find that this typically Argentine white wine was her favorite, as she expected to be most impressed by the more traditional Malbec varietal. The Torrontés paired really well with grapefruit and melon that we served, pleasantly surprise our guests. Las Perdices Sauvignon Blanc followed, and turned out to be even more popular than the first with its marked dryness and intense citrus notes.

A powerhouse trio of classically Argentine reds from Mendoza came next: Familia Mayol Bonarda, Don Juan Reserve Blend, also from Las Perdices, and a Cavagnaro Reserve Malbec. Far and away the last two reserve wines were the evening favorites. The reserve blend was an immediate hit with it’s intoxicating nose of spiced dark chocolates and tobacco which, over the following 30 minutes evolved into a cacophony of plums and raspberries. The Cavagnero Reserve Malbec was an appropriately rich and round finish to the evening. Described as “buttery, rich and hedonistic,” this is a perfect description as well of our satisfied states as the tasting came to a close and the conversation drifted from grape production to laughter and stories of the sobremesa (the table talk “over the table” after food and wine have been consumed).

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