Megamoon Part I: Napa

Napa Valley California

Tasted October 13, 2015 - October 16, 2015 by MC2 Wines with 758 views

Introduction

Stop one of the honeymoon (also dubbed megamoon as opposed to the mini-moon approach) was Napa which is an old favorite of ours. It's where we got engaged originally and has a lot of old friends. While we made sure to visit many of those, we also took some new suggestions and added MacDonald, Greer, Dunn, and Outpost to the mix.

Flight 1 - Day 1: Progeny (5 notes)

What an absolutely perfect way to kick off the trip. It's always a pleasure to see Paul and fun to catch up on the new construction and see what's going on with the wines. We think he may be one of the few producers in Napa who's really made a commitment to the Rhone varietals in addition to the Cabernet and from the tasting that seems to be working out quite well. All of the new wines were drinking beautifully, especially the Trinity Rouge which despite having had multiple hours of airtime before seemed to continue to leap forward in depth. The SSR though was the show stopper. Still very young and with lots of life ahead, but the wine was just drinking beautifully.

White
2012 Progeny Winery Trinity Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
92 points
Tasted this next to the '13. The '12 is just a mix of Marsanne and Roussanne. I think we had this a few years ago and I remember it feeling a bit more disjointed, but it's really come together here. Majority Roussanne (close to 60%), the wine is very balanced, nice acidity, a bit of melon flavors maybe. Very smooth and soft.
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White
2013 Progeny Winery Trinity Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
92 points
This is the first Trinity Blanc to be officially released although we were lucky enough to try it alongside the '12. Also the first vintage with some Viognier (only 8%) and a higher level of balance with the Roussanne and Marsanne. There's a bit more character and complexity to this one (although perhaps because I'm so partial to the Roussanne I bit preferred the '12). I get some honeydew and maybe kumquat like flavors. During the tasting Paul mentioned bubblegum and I can see that as well, but more in the midpalette. Interesting wine.
Red
2012 Progeny Winery Trinity Rouge USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
93 points
This wine was excellent to start and then just kept getting better throughout the tasting. By the end I thought only the SSR was showing a bit more strongly and it had 5 years on the Trinity. There's plum and spice and overall a great fruit which is well balanced. Wine is soft and approachable, but with a bit more swirling in the glass reaches truly elegant. Excited for our 3 bottles.
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Red
2012 Progeny Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
92 points
Beautiful wine, bright black cherry right at the beginning, awesome nose, there's so many wonderful flavors here. It's incredibly approachable now like some of the other '12s.
Red
2008 Progeny Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
96 points
This wine was just straight up spectacular from nose to finish. It's always nice to see a wine develop in the direction that you think it's going to go and this is coming together really nicely. Still the black fruits and some leather. There is this secondary spice note towards the end of the palette that I could not identify but which really elevates the wine to just stunning.

Flight 2 - Day 1: MacDonald (1 note)

I'd recommend a tasting at MacDonald just for a tour of the property which was amazing. These must be some of the oldest vines in Napa (there's a plot with 60 year old ones) and they were stunning to behold. Interesting to get a better feel for the soil types here and to see the evolution between the 20, 40, and 60 year old pieces. It's clear the wine is looking to express a sense of place. The 2012's were all sold out so we ended up opening a 2013 a year before release so the note is more based on the potential there, but I suspect it will be a really fantastic wine and we're looking forward to buying some when it is finally released.

Red
2013 MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Our first experience with MacDonald wines and it didn't disappoint (although of course it's much too young). It is really nice to see some Napa cab folks making wines that are meant for aging and that's clearly the play here. The wine was opened and decanted about five hours before we drank it and it was still a monster - intense dark fruit, some floral notes, a slate midpalette, some dark chocolate. In my notes I have this needs a ton of time, but it could be epic.
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Flight 3 - Day 1: Abreu (1 note)

In addition to the 2012 Thorevilos from the bottle we also tasted the 2013 Madrona Ranch, Howell Mtn, and Thorevilos from the tanks. At this early of a stage I'm particularly excited about the later two which just seemed to have a lot going on right now which I'd hope bodes well for later. As this was my first time tasting from tanks though take my thoughts with a grain of salt. The 2012 Thorevilos though was fantastic. I guess we're still a few allocation letters away from it, but looking forward to trying.

Red
2012 Abreu Thorevilos USA, California, Napa Valley
After trying a few of the '13s from the tank, Brad opened the '12 Thorevilos and wow is this wine something. Like many of the '12s it's approachable and drinking well now. I didn't take detailed notes, but the wine just went on and on and was constantly evolving. It was fantastic.
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Flight 4 - Day 1: Greer (1 note)

We finished a perfect day with a perfect tasting on the second floor of the Greer barn. The crazy heat was finally dissipating and there was a nice breeze coming through. Wine was fantastic and we ended up finding ourselves revisiting the bottle throughout our stay.

Red
2012 Greer Cabernet Sauvignon Greer Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
A wonderful last wine to a great day of tasting and thus I didn't take detailed notes but just enjoyed the moment. From memory, this was still much too much of a baby, but you can tell there are some good things ahead once it's had a few years to settle down although for those who like the very young Napa cabs this would be drinkable early.

Flight 5 - Day 2: Lokoya (6 notes)

Our first visit to the new property which is just stunning. The main tasting room isn't up and going yet so we were at the Lokoya Villa with a beautiful view out onto the valley. Lokoya wines have long been a favorite and so this was a much anticipated tasting and I'm glad to say it did not disappoint. Some people have gotten quite bold with their 2012's, but Chris seemed to harness some of that strength and create a more subtle, more nuanced, and just beautiful set of wines. Trying to pick among them was like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. And of course as they each evolved through the tasting the answer seemed to shift as well. All were wonderful in their own right and some of my favorite wines of the week.

Red
2012 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
This wine was almost a bit shy upon pouring. Had been open for about 30 minutes when we got to it and at the end of the two hours it was just starting to stretch its legs a bit. Some dark cherry flavors, a bit more fruit forward than some of the others, but not in an overpowering way. Would actually call the wine a bit subtle even. Mike's favorite of the flight and for sure really delicious.
Red
2012 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
Perhaps my least favorite of the flight although I still noted lovely and delicious so wouldn't read too much into it. As mentioned in the other note, there's some more floral characteristics here, some tart cranberry. I really liked it, just not quite as much as some of the others.
Red
2012 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
This was one of the more intriguing wines for me in the tasting. We hadn't bought our allocation originally and quickly remedied that. It's got some floral notes on the nose, but then palette is smoke and leather and blueberry and blackberry and some bramble flavors. Like all of the other's it's a super baby, but lots of promise here.
Red
2012 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
The Veeder is almost always my favorite of the Lokoyas - I always love the mix between the fruit and grassiness and earthy characteristics. This one was a bit more subtle than normal which is interesting. The fruit was more pronounced. The grass I had to kindof search for. It's a wonderfully complex wine though that just throws a ton of different flavors through the mouthful. Can understand how it got 100 points and am very happy to have half a case coming (although as with all Lokoyas, this just needs a lot more time).
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Red
2005 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
95 points
Pulled out for the 10 year anniversary and a nice reminder how much time helps these wines. This was still very young - has another 10 years I'd guess at least. Some of the secondary notes are coming together now and there's a prettiness to this that I suspect was absent upon first release. Now it's just wonderfully balanced between the fruit (still very present) and some of the leather, earth, spice. Fantastic wine.
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Red
2011 La Jota Merlot W.S. Keyes Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Really almost cruel to have this wine in the same tasting as the four Lokoya 2012 releases, but I give it credit for standing in even if it's not in the same league. This was super soft, strawberry, easy drinking. Slight hint of alcohol, but suspect that would blow off fast (we did a pnp). Found it interesting.

Flight 6 - Day 2: Courtesan (4 notes)

We ended up not being on the ball quickly enough with Smith Madrone and so missed getting to taste there. Instead our driver (Ryan from Jewel Wine Drivers) set us up with a childhood friend of his who is making some very interesting wines. Great conversation with Bridgette and good wines. Especially interesting to try the one with 70% Cabernet Franc and the Veronica on the second day after it had had a lot more time to open up.

Red
2009 Courtesan Cabernet Sauvignon Premiere Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Big and juicy Cabernet which had been opened right about as we started tasting and definitely benefited from some additional time in the glass. Soft tannins which kept the structure in place. This was 100% barrel fermented.
Red
2012 Courtesan Blue Mask Proprietress Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
This was one of the most intriguing wines in the tasting. It's mostly (70%) Cabernet Franc, but the softest, most gentle version of that varietal I've ever tried. Apparently comes down to a very long barrel aging (~27 months) which takes away all of the bell pepper and makes the fruit come out a lot more. I get mostly ripe blackberry which is interesting (and could be some of the cab sauv coming through).
Red
2008 Omerta USA, California, Napa Valley
More approachable more quickly than the Courtesan wines that Bridgette poured this was softer with a nice acidity to it. Easier drinking wine and quite nice.
Red
2008 Courtesan Veronica USA, California, Napa Valley
We saved this for the end of the tasting since it needed the most time to find it's feet and even then it was still just a monster. Ended up taking the bottle with us and opening it up again to have a glass on day 2. At that point, just velvet in the mouth. Flavors were coming together and the wine which had felt just much too young was actually drinking very well as something you could consume right then (versus appreciating a potential future state). Very nice and went home with a few bottles.
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Flight 7 - Day 2: Constant (4 notes)

There are a lot of really beautiful properties in Napa, but I'd still contend that Constant has the best view with the infinity pool and the vines and the perfect placement in the corner overlooking the entire valley. It's another old time favorite of ours. Very interesting as most of the Valley and even the other mountains were completely done with their picking and they were just getting started up there.

Red
2011 Constant Claret Diamond Mountain Vineyard USA, California, North Coast, Napa / Sonoma
This was a very easy, very approachable, very drinkable now wine which really surprised me for a 2011 blend. Very tasty wine.
Red
2011 Constant Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
Similar to the Claret, this was very approachable for its age. Good fruit (mostly blackberry) and a nice tannic backbone so it feels like it can go for longer, but everything was soft with rounded edges. Very nice wine esp for the vintage.
Red
2006 Constant Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
Amazing what a bit of age can do for a Cabernet. This was drinking pretty well although still a bit young tasting. It has the blackberry that seems to come through quite often, just a hint of alcohol although suspect if we'd given it more time would have blown off. There's a maturity to it so that the flavors aren't terribly different than the '11 and yet everything here is a bit more integrated with each other. Drinking well.
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Red
2012 Constant Syrah Diamond Mountain Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
The only 2012 that we tasted today and you can just see the fruit shining through compared to some of the 11's. Much more red components - currant and cranberry. Drinking very nicely.
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Flight 8 - Day 3: Dunn (4 notes)

How incredibly special to get to taste at one of the stalwarts of the Valley with wines that we've enjoyed for years. The vibe here is just perfect. I'm still in awe that two people can handle the entire crush duties for all 6k cases produced (less though since 2015 had all of the shatter). And that at one point it was mostly Mike Dunn by himself. Everyone was lovely though and the quality of the wines and the clear vision was wonderful to behold.

Red
2012 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
For most of the Dunn's the tasting was more about what could this wine be rather than what is it now. These wines really aren't meant to be drunk young and it shows through although you have some of the older wines and they are so beautiful and light on their feet. This wine was tight despite having been opened the day before, but with some time in the glass the red fruits started to poke through a tough. Lots of tannin (30 months in new French Oak), pretty sure this will be a wonderful wine one day.
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Red
2011 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Dunn might be one of the only producers who seemed to not just make an ok wine in 2011 given all of the conditions but to actually make something which could be pretty spectacular. It's a lot more old world in style, less fruit, more floral, but just elegant in a way that I haven't seen in any other wine from that vintage. Mild black pepper which lends just the right spice. I'm pretty excited about this wine (in 15-20 years).
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2003 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
93 points
Just starting to fall into a reasonable drinking window, but with so many years left that it's quite surprising. Delicious wine that has wild strawberry and white pepper of all flavors. I very much appreciated, but would prob still give it more time.
Red
2002 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
This was prob the only wine we tried that was right in the drinking window and unlikely to reward much more patience (although also not going away anytime soon). Bing cherry, again with the white pepper, much softer than the other wines. Delicious.

Flight 9 - Day 3: Outpost (5 notes)

This would prob rival most other views from Howell Mountain being all the way at the top and KC (who did our tasting) was just fantastic. Lots of stories of how the winery came into being and the background to the different wines. Perfect location right on the top of the hill to sip and chat. The wines were good although less exactly to our tastes, but a very fun experience.

Red
2013 Outpost Zinfandel Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
89 points
So coming off a tasting at Dunn this was a very different wine. Seems like something that's meant to be drunk young (almost now), very fruit forward. A bit of pepper towards the mid-back palette which balances it out. And nice structure from the tannins which were fairly mild.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2013 Outpost Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
90 points
Again very big fruit although interesting to read the previous note because I got more in the red family than black. Lots of cranberry and then this flavor I couldn't quite place but think fleshy red sour fruit and then oddly enough just a hint of watermelon which was not out of place and worked well with the wine. Lighter spice and while I think this wine was meant to be drunk young, it seems to have the ability to lie down for a bit too.
3 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2013 Outpost Immigrant True Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
92 points
Here was the black fruit and more of a wine that was built for age. Although it had been decanted for at least the 1.5 hours before we got to it (and perhaps quite a bit longer) it was still very tight. Will be interesting to see where it ends up. We got a few bottles to follow along.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Cresta Velia Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
88 points
Tasted at Outpost (wine is made by the assistant wine maker) and it was an interesting comparison. A bit less ripe than the Outpost wines this has a stronger level of acidity to it. Tastes a bit younger as well. Very good QPR at $65/bottle.
Red
2013 Belharra Syrah USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
88 points
Part of the Outpost tasting and perhaps the best deal on the list ($35/bottle) this wine suffered a bit though from the tough competition. It again felt a bit muted next to some of the other wines we were trying. With a bit of time some spice characteristics came out which I appreciated.

Flight 10 - Day 3: Arkenstone (3 notes)

First time meeting Susan and just so kind of her to make our tasting work when we completely messed up our days. Arkenstone continues to make just excellent wine. I don't think there's a white that rivals their Sauvignon Blanc in the valley and the Obsidian is a special wine that finds just the right balance with the mountain fruit. Always a favorite and happy we were able to make it.

White
2012 Arkenstone Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
93 points
This wine is just straight up awesome. So fresh and lively and grassy and honeysuckle. The white wine that is made for a red wine drinker's palette. Bought a few more to enjoy along the way on our honeymoon.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Arkenstone Obsidian USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
94 points
Pretty awesome wine so we opted to get another three while we were at the winery. Cherry and spice and subdued but excellent at the same time. I wrote lovely about 3 times in my notes. This was with some time a bit more approachable than the 2010, but I think the 2010 is more likely to be the long term favorite.
Red
2010 Arkenstone Obsidian USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
95 points
Plum and spice and everything nice. This is a delicious wine that was drunk much too young. Between it and the 2012 I think this is the winner although the 2012 was a lot more approachable right now and this is still in infancy. Very much enjoyed. Glad we have 6 of these and glad they are offsite so we're not tempted to go for them too early.
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Flight 11 - Day 4: Colgin (2 notes)

The wines at Colgin can really only be described as special. The facility is beautiful and the views are stunning and the setting with the artwork and everything else is just wonderful, but really you go here for the wines. And they didn't disappoint. Two of my absolute favorites from the trip. I had no idea production was so low (around 3k cases across all of the labels). Everything is clearly done well. When you are spending as much money as the Colgin list demands, there is a certain expectation that the wines will be special all the time, and the people at the winery clearly feel that as well. Today, the IX Estate might have been just a touch more to my liking than the Cariad, but both were spectacular.

Red
2012 Colgin Cariad USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
Ummmm, wow. Which is saying something because this Napa trip has been filled with so much good wine and it's the last day and our palettes have a bit of that tannin fatigue. But the Colgin shone through regardless. This one was a bit heavier, more muscular, more intense than the IX Estate. That great red sour fruit that we're getting on a lot of the 12's with leather and earth and just a bit more of a mouthful altogether. But great wine. Right now to my tastes by just a hair I prob prefer the IX Estate, but this was in the top 5 wines of the trip.
Red
2012 Colgin IX Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
97 points
Spectacular. Possibly possibly my wine of the trip and there is stiff competition for that honor. Good minerals, red currant, plum, smoke, leather. Sitting in the glass for some time cherry flavors appeared. Velvet in a glass.
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Flight 12 - Day 4: David Arthur (5 notes)

We've been coming to David Arthur since the first year we visited Napa. It was one of the first places we enjoyed and part of how we found that we prefer the mountain fruit. Hard though to be the act following the Colgin tasting esp since they were only about 10 minutes apart. As we've gotten to know the wines better we've naturally veered more towards the 1147 and the Old Vine ones which seem more likely to hold up to the aging (about 2 years ago we had a 1998 DA which was just spectacular). The Le Boucher was interesting and certainly appreciate Napa spending some time going beyond just the CS and experimenting with the CF more these days.

Red
2013 David Arthur Meritaggio USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
So it's a bit unfair to the wine to go from Colgin to this. This is 50% Sangiovese built out of Chianti which is really table wine in Italy and meant to be more of your every day drinker. The tannins were a bit harsher, the wine was a bit simpler, and it was just a bit hard to adjust so I didn't get the best notes.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 David Arthur Nebbiolo Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
Here again we were walking and talking and I didn't take any detailed notes. Not a lot jumped out from the glass. It was a bit tight right now and not as accessible as some of the other wines. Prob more of a food wine.
Red
2012 David Arthur Cabernet Sauvignon Three Acre USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
90 points
88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc. Umami flavor (more of that heavy, almost saltiness), red currant, leather. Drink in 4-6 years.
Red
2013 David Arthur Le Boucher USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
A 70% Cabernet Franc blend made as a tribute to Don Long who bought the land originally on Pritchard Hill. I'm finding myself a bit intrigued by the Cabernet Francs on this trip. Very floral flavors. More muted fruit. Soft and easy to drink. Interesting.
Red
2013 David Arthur Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vine USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
92 points
Didn't have quite the amount of time that I wanted with this wine to understand it more. It was super tight despite a double decant earlier in the morning. There was some fruit and pepper and leather and nothing had really quite come together. Interested to see what it will be, but wait some years.

Flight 13 - Day 4: Ovid (2 notes)

Great great wines. Had heard some rumors that these weren't living up to our early experiences with them and so was interested to see how this visit would go. I'm happy to report the rumors were much overstated. The '08 Experiment was drinking incredibly well and does seem to standing up to a few more years. The '12 standard wine had some nice promise to it, but is of course in that style where it's more approachable young. Both were good wines and very enjoyable.

Red
2008 Ovid Experiment J5.8 USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
I really liked this. It's in a great place right now where there's some more life left, but it is just drinking very nicely. With the Ovid precision, 77.39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19.5% Petit Verdot, 3.11% Cabernet Franc. Black fruit (blackberry, some blueberry too), great pepper, just wonderful. It really stood up to the 2012 Ovid it was drinking next to.
Red
2012 Ovid Red Wine USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Red fruit, red current, sour cranberry, white pepper, and funnily enough maybe some maple syrup in there. This wine was just ever evolving in the glass. Like many of the '12s a bit of time meant the cherry started popping out. Very nice wine. Enjoyed.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 14 - Day 4: Continuum (1 note)

The last visit of the trip and interesting to see how much it's changed in the last few years as they've finished the winemaking facility. Need to do a pump over in the tank? There's an app for that. And Continuum has it. Beautiful facility which makes beautiful wine. Interesting to try the first vintage that was completely made from estate fruit (2012).

Red
2012 Continuum Proprietary Red USA, California, Napa Valley
Didn't take super detailed notes since we got to chatting and just enjoying our afternoon out on the patio. This is still a young tasting wine that I suspect will do quite well with some more time. Bright red fruits, but a stronger tannic backbone to help it out. Had been decanted for some time before it was poured. Was good though. Glad that we have some waiting for us at home.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Closing

Always these days it seems when we go to Napa I am unconvinced how we can even create another experience that will compete let alone top the previous one but this was pretty special. From going through the Progeny line-up with Paul to the number of times we were sipping wine from on high overlooking a set of vines to wandering with Alex MacDonald breaking apart rocks from a creekbed into gravel to finally getting to meet Susan and Bradley. And the dinner in the wine cave with the performance of Phantom wasn't too shabby either. It was a pretty amazing trip filled with lots of great memories and the perfect way to start a marriage. Some memorable wines - the Colgins, the '12 Thorevilos, the Lokoya '12 line-up, the Arkenstone '10, the Dunn '11 (yes, I got that year right), the Ovid Experiment.... I'm finding myself writing down half the wines we tried, but it was that kindof trip. Many thanks to everyone who hosted and very much looking forward to making the pilgrimage an annual one going forward.

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