Monday, January 15, 2018

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  • Monday, January 15, 2018

VINTAGES Release January 20, 2018: Chile + Portugal

LCBO Wine Picks from January 20, 2018 VINTAGES Release
The value-based releases of 2018 continues with this second release of the year. The main theme of the VINTAGES Release focuses on sustainable and green wines from Chile, while the mini-theme highlights the wines from the varied regions of Portugal. New wines will be on LCBO VINTAGES shelves this .

Chile shines in this release, with nine of the fourteen wines included in my top wine picks. We'll begin with the organic sparkling wine that is a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Among the white wines from Chile, there is a single vineyard oaked Chardonnay, as well as an interesting blend from coastal vineyards made with 85% Chardonnay (oaked) and 15% Viognier. Among the reds there are numerous single varietal wines to choose from, including Syrah, Cot (the original name for Malbec in France), Carmenère, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The blends include a 2010 that consists of 80% Carignan from dry farmed 60-year-old vines, with the balance Mourvèdre. And lastly, the LFE 900 is a blend of 77% Syrah, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Mourvèdre, 4% Tempranillo, and 1% Grenache.

Valdivieso Éclat 2010 (90+ pts)Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2015 (89 pts)

The mini-theme from Portugal is very small, with just five wines listed, and the only one included among my wine picks is a dry, unoaked white wine made with the Avesso varietal from the Vinho Verde wine region in northwestern Portugal. It's not common to see single varietal wines made with this grape, and is very uncommon to see in our market.

From my top red wine picks in this release, the 2008 Bordeaux is a blend of roughly 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. The Flagship Store Exclusives (FSE) in this release are also very good. From South Africa, the Optima is a blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 16% Cabernet Franc, while the Languedoc red is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, and 20% old vine Syrah. There are also a pair of very fine Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines - the 2015 is a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre / Vaccarèse / Cinsault, while the 2004 has Grenache as the main component, and but contains other varietals typical for the region.

Among my white wine picks, the Bila-Haut is a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Macabeu, 10% Marsanne, and 10% Vermentino, while the rest are all single varietal wines. For sweet wine lovers, the Gewürztraminer is a must buy; there is also a Niagara Riesling which is a blend of grapes from both the Ivan and Picone vineyard.

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2015 (88 pts)

It's refreshing to see rosé wines on VINTAGES shelves in the middle of winter. The Il Borro is a dry, organic rosé wine from Tuscany made with 100% Sangiovese.

Enjoy my wine recommendations from this release! Salud!

Red Wine:

  • BOUTARI NAOUSSA XINOMAVRO 2015 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#023218) (XD) - $13.95
  • SANTA EMA GRAN RESERVA SYRAH 2015 - Leyda Valley, Chile (#371161) (XD) - $18.95
  • PÉREZ CRUZ LIMITED EDITION COT 2015 - Estate bottled, Maipo Valley, Chile (#670547) (D) - $19.95
  • CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CARMENÈRE 2015 - Peumo, Cachapoal Valley, Chile (#169862) (XD) - $19.95  89 pts  wine review
  • ANKO FLOR DE CARDÓN MALBEC 2014 - Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina (#536706) (XD) - $19.95
  • MIGUEL TORRES CORDILLERA DE LOS ANDES CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Maipo Valley, Chile (#541169) (XD) - $19.95

  • IL MOLINO DI GRACE RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#382945) (XD) - $24.95
  • LUIS FELIPE EDWARDS LFE 900 SINGLE VINEYARD BLEND 2014 - Colchagua Valley, Chile (#431809) (XD) - $24.95
  • ANTHONIJ RUPERT OPTIMA 2013 - WO Western Cape, South Africa (#455915) (XD) - $27.95  FSE
  • VALDIVIESO ÉCLAT 2010 - Dry farmed, old vines, Maule Valley, Chile (#541128) (XD) - $29.95  90+ pts  wine review
  • CHÂTEAU BELLEGRAVE DU POUJEAU 2008 - AC Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#526921) (XD) - $38.95
  • CHÂTEAU LA NERTHE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2004 - AC, Rhône, France (#735407) (XD) - $52.95  FSE
  • CLOS DU CAILLOU LES SAFRES CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#525998) (XD) - $62.95  FSE

White Wine:

  • TETRAMYTHOS RODITIS 2016 - PDO Patras, Peloponnese, Greece (#261610) (XD) - $13.95  88 pts  wine review
  • DOMAINE DE LA FRUITIÈRE MUSCADET SÈVRE & MAINE SUR LIE 2015 - AC, Loire, France (#451112) (XD) - $14.95
  • LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2015 - AC, Midi, France (#485656) (XD) - $15.95  88 pts  wine review
  • COVELA EDIÇÃO NACIONAL AVESSO 2015 - Vinho Verde, Portugal (#524868) (XD) - $17.95
  • VISTAMAR CORTE DE CAMPO COASTAL BLEND 2015 - Single estate, Casablanca Costa Valley, Chile (#541003) (XD) - $18.95
  • SAN PEDRO 1865 SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2015 - Elquí Valley, Chile (#540781) (XD) - $19.95
  • ANDRÉ BLANCK & FILS ALTENBOURG GEWURZTRAMINER 2016 - AC Alsace, France (#168906) (M) - $19.95
  • CHARLES BAKER B-SIDE RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#523845) (M) - $22.20
  • LOUIS MOREAU VAULIGNOT CHABLIS 1ER CRU 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#525386) (XD) - $38.95
Tetramythos Roditis 2016 (88 pts)

Rosé Wine:

  • IL BORRO ROSÉ DEL BORRO 2016 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#539940) (XD) - $19.95

Sparkling Wine:

  • EMILIANA ORGANIC BRUT SPARKLING - Traditional method, Casablanca Valley, Chile (#536607) (XD) - $17.95

Sunday, January 7, 2018

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  • Sunday, January 7, 2018

Pierre Amadieu La Grangelière Vacqueyras 2010 (Rhône) - Wine Review

Coming off the lovely 2009 Mas d'Auzières Sympathie Pour Les Stones that I opened , tonight's wine is another bottle that has seen some time in my cellar. This delicious wine was purchased from the LCBO VINTAGES Release - just over 5 years ago.

Pierre Amadieu La Grangelière Vacqueyras 2010 (89 pts)

Tasting Note:

PIERRE AMADIEU LA GRANGELIÈRE VACQUEYRAS 2010 - AC, Rhône, France (#076398) (XD) - $19.95
Blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah grown on terraces where the soil is a mixture of gravel and alluvium deposits that was aged 60% in tank and 40% in 2-year-old oak barrels. Dark plum, earth and hints of violet aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose that's savoury with scorched earth and tobacco notes followed by blackberry, dark cherry, sweet spices and herbs, and hints of black pepper. Meaty notes come to the fore as it warms. It's full bodied and dense on the palate with drying, chalky tannins. Flavours are savoury and earthy with oak spice and meaty notes. Some stony minerality and warmth on the mid-palate. Good acids. Finishes long and savoury with lingering earthy and dark berry notes. From the excellent 2010 vintage, this should continue to drink well for another couple of years. Score: 89 pts

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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  • Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mas d'Auzières Sympathie Pour Les Stones 2009 (Languedoc) - Wine Review

wine is the first bottle I'm opening in 2018. It was purchased nearly 6 years ago from the LCBO VINTAGES Release and no newer vintages have reached VINTAGES shelves since.

This red wine is made with Syrah and the name is not only a tribute to the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy of the Devil", but also gives a nod to the rocks (i.e. terroir) in the vineyard from where these grapes were grown in the Languedoc. Let's see how this tastes after half a decade in the cellar.

Mas d'Auzières Sympathie Pour Les Stones 2009 (90 pts)

Tasting Note:

MAS D'AUZIÈRES SYMPATHIE POUR LES STONES 2009 - AC Côteaux du Languedoc, Midi, France (#277046) (XD) - $19.95
Dark plum and scorched earth aromas from the cork. This Syrah shows a mature aroma profile in the glass with meaty, umami, wet earth, and forest floor notes along with hints of dark berry compote and dried fruit aromas. The medium-full bodied palate is smooth as tannins have nicely folded into the wine. Flavours are in the savoury spectrum with stony mineral, forest floor, black spice, and mocha chocolate notes. Acids are juicy and still provide nice lift. Just a touch of heat mid-palate. Finish length is very good with savoury mocha chocolate and fig flavours. If you still have this delicious, mature red wine, then drink by 2020. Score: 90 pts

Monday, January 1, 2018

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  • Monday, January 1, 2018

VINTAGES Release January 6, 2018: Smart Buys

LCBO Wine Picks from January 6, 2018 VINTAGES Release
This first LCBO VINTAGES release of the year always the annual Smart Buys release, and 2018 is no different. After the many high-priced releases leading up to the holidays, this release is filled with mostly sub-$20 wines - a welcome sight to many wallets, I'm sure. This release is also much smaller than the holiday-themed releases from October through December. Nonetheless, there are some quality buys in this release. New wines will be on shelves this .

In this mono-thematic release, twenty wines are featured as Smart Buys, and four are listed among my top wine picks. The first is a nice Shiraz from South Africa, while the second red wine is a Carignan from 60+ year old vines in Roussillon. In white wines, both are sweet Rieslings, with one coming from British Columbia, and the other being a mature 2008 Riesling Kabinett from Germany.

St. Hubertus Riesling 2014 (88+ pts)Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2016 (89+ pts)

In continuing the theme of nice (and sweet) Rieslings, you'll also want to check out the Niagara Riesling that comes from vines nearly 40 years of age and is always delicious year-after-year. It would be a nice comparison to taste the Niagara Riesling alongside the versions from the Okanagan and Mosel. Other white wines in this release include dry wines made with lesser-known varietals Godello and Fiano - neither of which make an appearance at the LCBO often. The dry white wine from Loire is made with Chenin Blanc, while the Burgundian white is a Chardonnay.

Among top red wine picks from this release, there is a Côtes du Rhône from the excellent 2015 vintage which contains 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, while the Australian GSM is mostly Grenache with some Shiraz, and small amounts of Mataro (Mourvèdre). From Tuscany, the Brunello is made with Sangiovese Grosso, while the Morellino di Scansano is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Alicante, and 5% Malvasia Nero. Also from Tuscany, the Irrosso is a blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Colorino. And last, but not least, from Friuli is a red wine made with the little-known Schioppettino varietal.

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro 2013 (88+ pts)

Enjoy my top wine recommendations from this Release and Happy New Year to all! May you drink great wine in 2018. Cheers!

Red Wine:

  • COURTOIS LA SOURCE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2015 - AC, Rhône, France (#526640) (XD) - $14.95
  • LEEUWENKUIL SHIRAZ 2016 - WO Swartland, South Africa (#536631) (XD) - $14.95
  • D’ARENBERG THE FOOTBOLT SHIRAZ 2014 - McLaren Vale, South Australia (#984021) (XD) - $17.00
  • FATTORIA LE PUPILLE MORELLINO DI SCANSANO 2015 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#455659) (XD) - $17.95
  • KILIKANOON KILLERMAN’S RUN GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MATARO 2013 - Clare Valley, South Australia (#412189) (XD) - $19.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • MOMO PINOT NOIR 2015 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#163972) (XD) - $19.95
  • DOMAINE LAFAGE CAYROL VIEILLES VIGNES CARIGNAN 2014 - IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France (#494039) (XD) - $19.95
  • CA’TULLIO LO SCHIOPPETTINO 2015 - DOC Colli Orientali, Friuli, Italy (#539072) (XD) - $21.95  FSE
  • IRROSSO 2015 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#536235) (XD) - $28.95
  • LA GERLA BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#642561) (XD) - $61.95

White Wine:

  • ABAD DOM BUENO GODELLO 2015 - DO Bierzo, Spain (#154302) (XD) - $14.95
  • JANARE FIANO 2016 - DOP Sannio, Campania, Italy (#528786) (XD) - $16.95
  • DOMAINE DES QUINTS SAUMUR 2016 - AC, Loire, France (#527259) (XD) - $16.95
  • TERRES SECRÈTES LA ROCHE VINEUSE MÂCON 2015 - AC, Burgundy, France (#522193) (XD) - $17.95
  • DR. SIEMENS SERRIGER WÜRZBURG RIESLING KABINETT FEINHERB 2008 - Prädikatswein, Mosel, Germany (#524827) (M) - $17.95
  • ST. HUBERTUS RIESLING 2014 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#544072) (M) - $18.95  88+ pts  wine review
  • VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#038117) (M) - $19.95  89+ pts  wine review

Sparkling Wine:

  • CHÂTEAU MONCONTOUR TÊTE DE CUVÉE BRUT VOUVRAY - Traditional method, AC, Loire, France (#207936) (D) - $17.95

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

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  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (Ontario) - Wine Review

wine was opened upon the insistence of my wife, as she wanted to enjoy some Icewine in celebration of the holidays.

This Icewine was purchased at the winery in earlier this year when we visited Niagara to partake in Icewine Festivities. It's rare to see older vintages still available for purchase, so I was surprised when we were offered a tasting of this delicious Icewine back in January. If you're interested in getting your hands on this, I can see that this vintage is still available for purchase at Legends Estates Winery.

Legends Estates Vidal Icewine 2006 (90+ pts)

Tasting Note:

LEGENDS ESTATES VIDAL ICEWINE 2006 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $49.90
Lovely peach, orange, brown sugar and caramel aromas from the cork. The fragrant nose in the glass offers candied apricot off the top followed by mature nutty, brown sugar and caramel aromas. The medium+ bodied palate is creamy and fairly thick with a viscous mouthfeel and very sweet flavours of apricot and peach followed by some maturing brown sugar and caramel notes. Slightly tart acids are juicy and provide balance. Finishes long with nutty caramel and toffee flavours. Delicious! Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90+ pts

Saturday, December 23, 2017

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  • Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ferox Wines Tasting

Ferox Wines Tasting
One evening in , I had the pleasure of tasting through the inaugural vintage of wines from a new virtual winery in Niagara - Ferox Wines.

Based out of Reif Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this virtual winery is owned by Fabian Reis, the man behind Ferox. He was born into a traditional vintner family in Germany that has winemaking roots dating back to 1893 and is now a sixth generation winemaker. His grandfather is Herbert Konzelmann, founder of Konzelmann Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Fabian moved to Niagara in 1995, but returned to Germany for five years beginning in 2006 to study at one of Germany's prestigious winemaking schools, as well as work alongside some of Europe's best wineries. After returning to Niagara, Fabian decided to leave the shadows of his long established family and set a new course with his Sommelier wife Stephanie.

After meeting Fabian for the first time, I can tell you that he is passionate about winemaking and wants to produce high-quality wines in Niagara. Fabian and Stephanie are both very much hands-on with this project, from hand-harvesting the grapes to applying the wax seal (by hand) to each and every bottle. For a first vintage, the wine quality is quite good, but they do come in at super premium price points. This is a winery to keep an eye out for as I do believe that future vintages will be even better. The Merlot Cab is sold out, but you can still purchase the Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc by contacting the winery directly.

Thank you to André Proulx for arranging and inviting me to the tasting. It was also a pleasure to meet Fabian and Stephanie Reis!

Tasting Notes:

FOREX WINES RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $38
From 25 year-old vines in St. David's Bench, this has medium+ intensity honeyed aromas that are sweet with lime, ginger, acacia flower, citrus, and a whiff of orange. Acids are delicate on the medium+ bodied palate, with some structure. Citrus, lemon/lime flavours are a touch musky on the mid-palate. Off-dry in style with stony mineral and beeswax notes lingering on the long finish. Score: 88+ pts

Forex Wines Riesling 2016 (88+ pts)

FOREX WINES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $46
The medium intensity nose is a bit sulphury, but eventually gives way to ripe melon, tropical fruit and lemon peel aromas. The palate is medium-bodied and a touch creamy with fresh, vibrant acids that are well-balanced and offers ripe fruited white grapefruit and melon flavours. It's a touch hot mid-palate and finishes long and juicy. Score: 88 pts

Forex Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (88 pts)

FOREX WINES MERLOT CABERNET 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $55 Sold Out
A blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, this has an elegant, medium-high intensity nose of cocoa, blackberry, chocolate, and ripe dark currant and cassis. It's medium-bodied with fresh and bright acids supported by soft, supple tannins that offer some structure. The fruit is crunchy with nice aroma replays and subtle oak flavours that are nicely integrated. Finishes with good length and touches of wet earth. A bit of both Old and New World to enjoy over the next 5-7 years. Only 3 barrels/900 bottles produced. Score: 89 pts

Forex Wines Merlot Cabernet 2015 (89 pts)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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  • Sunday, December 17, 2017

Celebrating 40 Years of Roussillon

Celebrating 40 Years of Roussillon

This year marks 40 years of recognition of the AOC status of Côtes du Roussillon and Côtes du Roussillon Villages. Although winemaking in the region goes back hundreds of years, it was only in 1977 when this southern France wine region was formally recognized as an AOP by the INAO. Moreover, it only achieved this status because of the 40+ years of work by Roussillon producers prior to 1977.

I have personally been a fan of wines from Roussillon for many years thanks to the high quality and good value on offer. The AOC Côtes du Roussillon produces crisp white wines, fruity rosés and powerful reds, while wines from the AOC Côtes du Roussillon Villages are entirely made up of red wines. The primary red wine grapes are Grenache Noir, Carignan, and Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Carignan, in particular, is notable for its high quality from historic old vines that can be over 100 years old. Among white wines, the primary grapes are Grenache Blanc, Macabeu, and Tourbat. Most of the wines produced in Roussillon are blends.

The AOP Côtes du Roussillon is the largest of the Roussillon appellations, covering an area of 4695 hectares spread over 102 municipalities in the Pyrénées-Orientales region. Both the white wine and the first red wine listed below come from this large appellation. The Latour de France is a sub-appellation of the AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages covering 202 hectares in the northern part of the appellation and features mainly grey schist soils.

Wine Appellations of Roussillon

Surrounding the AOC Côtes du Roussillon are three mountain chains and the sea. To the north is the Corbières, the Pyrénées and the Mont Canigou are on the west side, the Albères is down south, and to the east is the Mediterranean Sea. Eighty percent of the vines are located on hillsides, and combined with the hot Mediterranean climate with minimal rainfall, helping create wines that are complex, aromatic and fresh.

Soil types are varied across the region, with a mix of granitic sand and gneiss, black and grey schist, red clay soils, sandy clay, and pebbly terraces.

To get a taste of what Roussillon offers, here are three quality wines that I enjoyed on and are a small sample of the various styles of wine you can expect from Roussillon. All three of these wines arrived in LCBO VINTAGES earlier this year. These wines are nearly sold out across the province, with only limited availability now.

To learn more about this fascinating wine region, visit Roussillon Wines.

40 Years of AOP Côtes du Roussillon & Villages

Tasting Notes:

LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON BLANC 2015 - AC, Midi, France (#485656) (XD) - $15.95
Blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Macabeu, 10% Marsanne, and 10% Vermentino. Floral, lemon, and tropical fruit aromas from the cork. In the glass, this has a medium+ intensity nose featuring grapefruit, lemon peel, white floral, and herbally notes, with a fine mineral component throughout. It's medium+ bodied and round on the palate with a nice mineral texture. Dry flavour profile features grapefruit, herbs, and floral notes, and a touch waxy. Juicy acids. The finish length is good, ending with a flinty mineral note. Released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 88 pts

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2015 (88 pts)

LE PUIG CARIGNANE DE LA PERPIGNANE 2013 - AC Côtes du Roussillon, France (#480988) (XD) - $19.95
This organic wine was raised in concrete tank and consists of 60% Carignane and 40% Grenache. Faint aromas of black plum and dark berry from the cork. In the glass, this leads with a mineral and iron nose followed by dark berry/cherry, kirsch, menthol, and spice aromas. Also some meaty aromas with air. It's medium-bodied on the palate with fresh, balanced acids and ripe, dark berry and peppery spice flavours laced with earthy minerality. Supple, gritty tannins add texture, while the finish is juicy with good length. Drink over the next 4-5 years. Released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 89 pts

Le Puig Carignane de la Perpignane 2013 (89 pts)

DOMAINE DE L’AGLY LATOUR DE FRANCE LES CIMES 2013 - AC Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France (#480897) (XD) - $29.95
From a 12 hectare vineyard with mica schist and blue granite soils at 300 metres elevation in the magnificent Agly Valley, this is a blend of 35% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, and 13% Carignan brought up in barrique (one-third new), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Earthy, dark berry and smoke aromas from the cork. Very ripe and fruit forward on the nose with raspberry, blackberry, crushed rocks, flowers and touches of vanilla. The seamless palate is bright and medium-full bodied with balanced dark berry, blackberry, white pepper, along with hints of violet and meaty flavours, Acids are very bright. Tannins have some grip and gain volume over time. The finish length is very good with some fine mineral notes. Drink over the next 6-8 years. Released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 90 pts

Domaine de l’Agly Latour de France Les Cimes 2013 (90 pts)

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