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Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé! 2018 Edition

November 25, 2018 5 comments

Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2018I find myself lately talking a lot about traditions. These are not cultural or societal traditions, of course not. Much simpler. These are only the traditions of this very blog. One needs time to claim something a “tradition”. This blog had been around continuously for more than 9 years, so I hope I get the right to call some of the permanent, repeated year after year, themes a “tradition”. A tradition such as the yearly Beaujolais Nouveau post.

I’m sure hope the majority of the wine drinkers are familiar with the Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon. Every year we celebrate the new vintage by drinking the young, simple wine just made a few months after the harvest. As the tradition of celebrating the new – Nouveau in French – vintage originated in the Beaujolais region in France, we call this celebration the Beaujolais Nouveau. And to set the expectations right, the Beaujolais Nouveau is always celebrated on the third Thursday in November – this is when the Beaujolais Nouveau wines officially hit the shelves of the wine stores around the world.

Every “new” Beaujolais Nouveau celebration brings something new and unique with it. I remember huge celebrations held a few years in the row. Then there was a period when the “Nouveau” movement was joined by the number of US producers. Last few years, however, were rather uneventful – it is, of course, possible that I missed something.

This year 2018 brought in quite a few things which might not be designated as “new”, necessarily, but for sure they were different. First, I almost missed the whole Beaujolais Nouveau celebration, as it came up quite unexpectedly – the earliest possible celebration overall. Beaujolais Nouveau can only be released on the 3rd Thursday of November, which fell this year on November 15th – can’t happen any earlier than that. Okay, I know this is insignificant. Next interesting fact was … the snow. Yep, we got 5 inches in Connecticut right in the middle of November – this is something which generally doesn’t happen. But I was able to take the pictures of the bottles in the snow.

The last “new” was truly a Nouveau event – Georges Duboeuf released Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé. Rosé was never a part of the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration – until now, that is. Not only it was a beautiful looking wine, but it was also a tasty one too!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2018

I know that bashing of the Beaujolais Nouveau as only a marketing stunt is quite popular among wine professionals and consumers alike – and I honestly don’t support it. Even this year, I saw someone asking in one of the wine forums on Facebook “does anyone drinks Beaujolais Nouveau wines”. I didn’t want to get into that conversation, but I can, of course, answer here – I do! The Rosé I would actually gladly drink at any time at all. And I would never refuse the second glass of either one of the reds, so there, you have my answer.

Here are a bit more detailed notes:

2018 Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau Vieilles Vignes (13% ABV, $12.99)
Dark ruby color
Fresh raspberries with the characteristic Beaujolais Nouveau acidity, mineral notes
Fresh tart raspberries, good structure, good balance, overall quite pleasant. 7+/8-

2018 Georges Buboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé (12.5% ABV, $9.99)
Beautiful light pink color, very inviting.
Beautiful fresh strawberries on the nose. Strawberries and cranberries on the palate, clean acidity, excellent balance. There is nothing “Nouveau” about this wine – it is just an excellent Rosé. 8

2018 Georges Buboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (12.5% ABV, $9.99)
Garnet color
Raspberries and violets on the nose
Raspberries and strawberries on the palate, interesting minerality, some baking spices, good concentration, medium plus body, well integrated mouth-plucking acidity. A very solid wine. 8-/8, one of the very best Beaujolais Nouveau.

What do you think of Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon? Did you taste the 2018 wines? If you did, what do you think of them? Cheers!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 – Well Worth Your Attention

November 25, 2013 19 comments

It that time of the year again – the festive labels are lining up in front of the wine stores to remind us that we are entering into literally a six week of non-stop celebrations – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, friends, families, holiday parties. With its festive label, coming out every third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau signifies both arrival of the wines of the new harvest, and the arrival of the holidays.

Beaujolais Nouveau Arrived!

Beaujolais Nouveau Arrived!

The tradition of celebration of the new harvest with the wines of Beaujolais is well more than hundred years old. It became linked to the third Thursday of November in 1985, and then little by little, became a huge marketing success. That huge success became the worst enemy of the wine, with the producers starting to make soulless, insipid wines, void of any substance – and Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon almost died at the very end of 20th century, with people simply ignoring the wines as only a marketing ploy.

Luckily, over the last few years, the situation started to change to the better, or I would even dare to say, to the “much better”. The wine behind festive labels started to show substance and character. I think Beaujolais Nouveau offers a very unique opportunity for the wine lovers, as you can taste every new vintage of the same wine, and compare – something which is rather difficult to do with many other wines – and you can see how the wine is changes year over year.

This year I had an opportunity to taste two different Beaujolais Nouveau wines – one from Georges Duboeuf, and another one from Jean Bererd & Fils, Domaine de la Madone – technically a Beaujolais Villages Nouveau, which is a different AOC designation, but for all intents and purposes it is produced in the same way as a regular Beaujolais Nouveau.

Can the wine be made better and better every year? Of course the question is way too generic to have an answer, but I can tell you that in case of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, the answer is “yes”. I was quite happy with the 2012 wine, but I think this year it is even better. The 2013 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (12% ABV, $10.99) showed beautiful dark purple inky color in the glass. The nose was full of bright fresh fruit – ripe cherries, succulent raspberries, some violets. The palate came in quite restraint and structured, even firm – good fruit presence of the same dark cherries and ripe raspberries, but not over the top, showing of respectfully mature, concentrated wine with good acidity and medium finish. Depending on the serving temperature, the acidity was more of less noticeable, and overall the wine showed well balanced. Definitely recommended for your Thanksgiving table, perfectly attune to the Harvest celebration. Drinkability: 8-

The 2013 Jean Bererd & Fils Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (13% ABV, $10.99) had very similar inky purple color in the glass. On the nose, it exhibited very similar notes of dark cherries and raspberries. And yes, the palate profile was very similar, but somehow, while the wine was perfectly drinkable and enjoyable, also showing firm structure, I was unable to find the right temperature when acidity was fully in check and harmony with the rest of the wine. Still, not a bad wine by all means. Drinkability: 7

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When it comes to Thanksgiving, which we are about to celebrate, my choice of wine tends to be all-American – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel – but nevertheless, I love opening the celebration with the glass of Beaujolais Nouveau – that clearly sets the mood to the Holidays, which have arrived.

Did you happen to taste Georges Duboeuf or any other Beaujolais Nouveau wines? What do you think? Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #82: Grape Trivia – Gamay

November 16, 2013 19 comments
Gamay grapes Source: Wikipedia

Gamay grapes
Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engines. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus again on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Gamay, also called Gamay Noir, and fully officially a Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc.

Gamay is a purple-skinned grape, taking its name from the village of Gamay, located south of Beaune in France. Gamay is considered to be a cross between Pinot Noir and ancient white grape called Gouais Blanc. First mentions of Gamay go all the way back to the 14th century, so it had being around for a while.

Gamay grapes have thin skin, and have a tendency to overproduce, creating the grapes with very high level of acidity and low sugar, which often results in the production of lightly colored and quite acidic wines. The overproduction and high acidity were the reasons for the Gamay being literally outlawed and pushed out of Burgundy by the royal rulers at the end of 14th century, to give way for much rounder Pinot Noir. As the result, Gamay mostly settled in Beaujolais area, where it became the major red grape variety. Gamay is used in Beaujolais to produce a wide range of wines, starting from the famous Beaujolais Nouveau, the wine produced within 6 weeks of the harvest – young, grape-y and quaffable, but usually not very exciting; and then going to the Cru Beaujolais ( there are 10 villages in Beaujolais, which have this status), which can be dense, concentrated and age-worthy.

In addition to Beaujolais, Gamay is also growing in Loire region, where it is often blended with other local grapes such as Cabernet Franc and Cot ( Malbec) and it is used to produce both red and Rosé wines. The Rosé from Loire are typically a lot fruitier than the ones from Provence. Gamay is also successfully grown in Switzerland, especially in the area around lake Geneva – it is often blended with Pinot Noir there. Outside of France, Gamay is planted in the number of regions, such as United States and Italy, but it doesn’t produce much of the well known wines. Interestingly enough, a world renowned wine writer and critic, Jancis Robinson, was raving about Gamay wines produced by Sorrenberg of Beechworth in north east Victoria, Australia  – she mentioned that it might be “one of the most exciting Gamays I have ever tasted”.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Gamay is closely associated with every third Thursday in November. Can you explain why?

Q2: Carbonic maceration is an important method in production of wines made out of Gamay. Can you briefly explain what is carbonic maceration and how does it helps here?

Q3: Fill in the blanks: In Beaujolais, Fleuri is considered to produce the most ___ wine, and Moulin-à-Vent produces the most ___ wines.

Q4: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Brouilly

b. Côte de Brouilly

c. Côte Chalonnaise

d. Juliénas

e. Régnié

Q5: True or False: Beaujolais Nouveau wines can be aged for a few years before consumption.

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2012 – Not To Be Missed!

November 19, 2012 10 comments

Walk into the wine store on third Thursday in November, and most likely you are  greeted with the abundance of wines with brightly colored labels, which were not there just a day ago. Yes, that means that Beaujolais Nouveau, the wine of new vintage, made out of grape called Gamay in Beaujolais in France, has arrived.

As with many other wine in France, Beaujolais wines have a very long history, despite the fact that officially Beaujolais AOC was established only in 1937. It was always a tradition in the region to make young fresh wine of the current vintage just to celebrate harvest. For the long time this was only a local tradition. In the 1970th, it became national phenomena in France. In the 1980th, the tradition of celebration spread out in Europe and then got to the North America – largely with the help of Georges Duboeuf, a négociant who recognized the marketing value of Beaujolais Nouveau (here is Wikipedia link if you want to read more on the subject).

Interestingly enough, the sheer marketing success of Beaujolais Nouveau became its biggest problem, as many serious wine drinkers simply dismiss the wine as a marketing gimmick, which was definitely not something intended to happen.

This years marks 30th anniversary of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations, so a little bit of magic had being used to acknowledge the occasion. Each bottle of 2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau is wrapped in an Augmented Reality label, which can  be used to deliver magical experience via free Georges Duboeuf Magic application available for download from iTunes (for more information use this link).

For many years by now, I’m always looking forward to trying Beaujolais Nouveau once it is released. What I remember from those past years is that the wine would show up very grapey and not very balanced. True, it is a young wine, but overall, I didn’t get much pleasure out of it. However, for the past 2-3 years, Beaujolais Nouveau had been steadily improving, showing more finesse, more substance and more balance. This year, 2012 – it simply got me to say “wow”.

2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (ABV 12%, $8.99) had nice and inviting bright ruby color. From the moment the wine went into the glass, the aromas of fresh strawberries and raspberries literally filled the room. This is the wine which I can smell indefinitely. On the palate the wine was fresh and open, with the same strawberries and raspberries flavor profile, supplemented by good acidity. Medium body, very balanced and with medium length finish – definitely the wine to enjoy. Drinkability: 8

Almost as a tradition by now, I always get another bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau – for the most of the cases it is Beaujolais Nouveau made by Joseph Drouhin. This 2012 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau (ABV 12%, $10.99) had very similar color to Georges Duboeuf wine, may be a touch darker. The nose was less explicit with the actual fruit and somewhat grapey. On the palate this wine was a touch more dense than Georges Duboeuf, but also more closed in comparison with it. While Joseph Drouhin was a very decent wine in my opinion (Drinkability: 7), my strong preference goes to the Georges Duboeuf.

I don’t know how do you feel about Beaujolais Nouveau overall, but 2012 is definitely not to be missed. The wine is not only representing a great QPR, but it will also give you a lot of pleasure. Beaujolais Nouveau wines don’t age, and when they gone, they are gone. Don’t miss your chance to experience Beaujolais Nouveau – it’s worth it.

That’s all I wanted to share with you, folks. Until the next time – cheers!

 

Crus of Beaujolais, Year 2011 – Part 2

July 16, 2012 7 comments

I like sequels, Well, in the movies – sometimes, not so much. But when it comes to the writing, whatever you forgot to say in the first part, you can say in the second, and feel good about it, claiming that this was the intent from the get go.

What I didn’t mention in the first post about great tasting of Georges Duboeuf 2011 Beaujolais portfolio is that red Beaujolais make one of the best red wines for summer – they are typically light in alcohol (if you noticed, 13% ABV was the most for all wines mentioned in the first post), and they also taste the best when they are slightly chilled. Considering how hot this summer is across pretty much the whole US territory, I hope this will help you to find a good red wine for the hot day, because sometimes it just have to be red.

In the first post, I described a self-guided part of tasting. That tasting was followed by the lunch, both of which (tasting and the lunch) taking place at db Bistro Modern, one of the restaurants of the famous chef Daniel Boulud.

Georges Duboeuf opened the event with presentation of 2011 vintage. Here is my best effort transcript of what he said (remember, I’m not a professional journalist, I’m only pretending): “2011 was a great year. Budding started in April, then flowering started in June, and then harvest started August 22nd and lasted for two weeks. Some areas experienced periods of drought. Overall, grapes reached very good level of ripeness. 2005 and 2009 (considered best in a very long time) were good, but 2011 might be even a little bit better than 2009. Throughout the vintage, there are lots of black cherry and earthy notes.”

After Georges Duboeuf’s presentation, the first dish was served – “Legumes du Marche” – Young Garden Vegetables, Fromage Blanc Dressing, Lavender Honey Vinaigarette.

This dish was paired with 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages, and it worked together very well by wine complementing soft and earthy flavors of the vegetables.

Next, Frank Duboeuf presented two white wines, Macon-Villages and Pouilly-Fuisse (please see detailed note below). He said that 2011 was equally good year for both whites and the reds, which is a very rare situation. I didn’t take the detailed notes though, as I was preoccupied with parallel discussion at the table and delicious pairing of wine and food ( bad journalism : ( )

White wines were served with the next course, Seafood Risotto – Black Sea Bass, Scallops, Squids, Cockles, Fennel, Tomato Confit “Fumet” Emulsion.

Pouilly-Fuisse worked perfectly well with risotto, which was a unique experience for me. Creaminess of risotto cancelled out some sharpness of the chardonnay, creating next level of experience.

For the next course, Georges Duboeuf presented two red wines, Morgon and Julienas. He described Morgon as having “violet, cassis, kirsch on the nose, same flavors on the palate. A lot of structure. This wine will age very well”. Regarding Julienas, he said that “it is a very special wine, it has great personality. 2011 was a lot like 2009. This particular wine had the biggest success over the last 5-6 years. It was very critical to expand the vineyard (by 4 acres) for the success of this wine. This is a very noble wine with great aging potential. The wine was bottled a week before, right before the event”.

These two reds accompanied the last course of the meal – Duo of Beef – Braised Short Ribs, Beef Tenderloin, Spring Vegetables, Sauce Bordelaise.

I have to tell that while both food and wine were delicious in its own right, they didn’t work together, so the pairing was not successful by not elevating the whole meal to the next level. But I also have to admit that both food and wine really didn’t bother each other too much – they were really two absolutely parallel experiences without a merge or a collision (which is often the case when wine and food don’t work together).

And then…there was a dessert, which was delicious and not paired with any wines (I also have no idea how this little cookies should be called, but it was very hard to stop eating them).

Here are the detailed notes for the wines:

2011 Georges Duboeuf Macon-Villages Domaine Les Chenevieres, Maconnaise, France (100% Chardonnay, SRP: $13.99, 12.5% ABV, 5000 cases produced) – Very nice, hint of hazelnut and citrus on the nose, good fruit, good balance, good acidity, hint of white apples, touch of vanilla and touch of oak on the palate. (Drinkability: 7+)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Pouilly-Fuisse Domaine Beranger, Maconnaise, France (100% Chardonnay, SRP: $17.99, 13% ABV, 3500 cases produced, 1200 imported) – this wine comes from the best area, the actual town of Pouilly-Fuisse. This wine had more pronounced chardonnay qualities than the previous wine – vanilla, touch of citrus and oak notes, excellent balance. (Drinkability: 8- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $9.99, 12.5% ABV) – very nice, good balance, a little tartness on the palate, but good overall. (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Morgon, Domaine Jean Descombes, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $15.99, 13% ABV) – good acidity, fresh fruit, light, soft, a bit too grapey to be great – but should improve with time. (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Julienas Chateau des Capitans, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $18.99, 14% ABV) – excellent depth, good power, good body, excellent balance. (Drinkability: 8)

All in all, it was one great event, both in the information and experience. Summer is still on, my friends – go find a bottle of Beaujolais to kick it off after a long day. And make an extra effort to find one of Georges Duboeuf wines – it will well worth it. Cheers!

Crus of Beaujolais, Year 2011

July 10, 2012 2 comments

(this self-rant doesn’t belong to this blog post, but I have to let it out of the system. I don’t understand how this works – this post was supposed to be out more than a month ago – the event was great, and the content was very clear in my head – nevertheless, it took soooo long to actually write it. Sometimes, the road from the head to the paper medium is all so twisty, not straight at all. The things are not what they appear… But I think we can proceed now.)

When you hear the word “Beaujolais”, what is the first thing which comes to mind? Beaujolais Noveau? Yes, me too. At the same time, Beaujolais is a large wine producing region, in area much bigger than Burgundy which it is technically considered to be a part of. And of course there is a lot more wine produced in the Beaujolais region than just a Beaujolais Noveau, a celebratory wine of a new vintage.

At the beginning of June, I was lucky enough to be invited for the tasting of the 2011 portfolio of wines of Georges Deboeuf. Georges Deboeuf is one of the largest and well-known wine merchants in France. He is credited with literally single-handily creating the Beaujolais Noveau phenomenon and often is called the “King of Beaujolais”. I also think that his success with Beaujolais Noveau, both wine and celebration of the new vintage with pleasant but very simple grapey wine, appearing in the stores all over the world always on the third Thursday in November, is also an enemy of serious Beaujolais wines, which can be absolutely fantastic – but this can be a subject for a whole different post, so let’s talk about the portfolio tasting of 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais wines.

No, wait. Before we talk about the wines presented in the tasting, let’s take a quick look at Beaujolais wine region. Beaujolais region is located to the south of Burgundy. Red wines constitute absolute majority of wine production in Beaujolais, and Gamay is pretty much the only grape used in the production of that red wine (with small plantings of Pinot Noir been phased out little by little). White wines are produced from Chardonnay with Aligote been also allowed, but overall production of white wines is miniscule. Three levels of wines are produced in Beaujolais – Beaujolais, which allows usage of the grapes from the whole appellation – these wine should generally be avoided; Beaujolais-Villages, which are better quality wines, and so called Cru wines (top level). There are 10 Crus in Beaujolais – Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour. In general, Beaujolais wines are considered simple and easy (and thus work well with wide variety of food), and also have lesser aging potential than, for instance, the wines of neighboring Burgundy (however aging is usually defined by the talent of winemaker more than anything else). Now that you know all the theory of the Beaujolais wines, let’s talk about tasting.

The tasting was organized by CRT/Tanaka and I would like to thank Caroline Helper (@ForgetBurgundy) for invitation. The tasting took place at DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan, and it was split into two parts – self-guided tasting of 12 different newly released wines from Georges Duboeuf portfolio (some wines on the list were denoted as barrel samples, as they were just bottled a week before the event), following by organized lunch. Little bites of food were served during the self-guided tasting, and I had an opportunity to try a famous Daniel Burger (with foie gras inside!) – and it was absolutely delicious.

Here I will share with you my notes from the self-guided tasting – description of the lunch, where both Georges and Frank Duboeuf presented their wines, will make up a separate post (ahh, I hope it will not take me another month to write it!). Of course I can’t leave you with just notes, so you will also see some pictures.

2010 Georges Duboeuf Macon-Villages, Maconnaise, France (100% Chardonnay, SRP: $12.99, 13% ABV) – Crisp acidity, interestingly nutty nose, hint of green apple, very mineral on the palate, with hint of limestone (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Pouilly-Fuisse, Maconnais, France (100% Chardonnay, SRP: $19.99, 13% ABV) – green notes on the nose, lime zest, light, effervescent and crisp on the palate, with a hint of tropical fruit, very refreshing (Drinkability: 8- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $9.99, 12.5% ABV) – Fresh fruit nose, very tannic, more fruit and tannins on the palate, with tannins literally reaching Barolo levels. Needs time and may be different temperature (Drinkability: 6 at the moment, but this wine needs to be reassessed)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $13.99, 13% ABV) – plums, acidity out of balance, tamed red fruit on the nose, tannins on the second taste (Drinkability: 6+)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Brouilly, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $14.99, 13% ABV) – tart cherries on the nose and palate, more balance than the previous wine, but still lacking a bit (Drinkability: 7- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf Brouilly Chateau de Nervers, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $15.99, 12.5% ABV) – closed, not balanced, all over the place – fruit, acidity, tannins are not harmonious (Drinkability: 6+)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Morgon, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $14.99, 13% ABV) – very nice nose with open fruit, too dry on the palate, very tannic, needs more fruit (Drinkability: 7- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $15.99, 13% ABV) – good fruit, ghood acidity, reasonably balanced (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $18.99, 13% ABV) – very nice! Round fruit on the nose and the palate, very good balance (Drinkability: 8- )

2011 Georges Duboeuf  Julienas, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $14.99, 13% ABV) – pleasant nose, good acidity, but fruit is closed (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $15.99, 13% ABV)- fresh fruit on the nose, lacks substance on the palate, needs more power – this wine is red like white (Drinkability: 7)

2011 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent Domaine des Rosiers, Beaujolais, France (100% Gamay, SRP: $17.99, 13% ABV) – very nice, beautiful color, good fruit on the nose, hint of minerality and spices, good red fruit, plums and raspberries on the palate. Best of tasting. (Drinkability: 8- )

In the end of the day, all the wines were showing very well, and if you think about QPR, all the wines were great values. Make no mistake – some of these wines are in a very limited production (especially all the Domaine-denoted wines), so you will need to make an effort to find them. But – it worth the reward!

That’s all for my first part of the report, folks. Until the next time – cheers!