Staff Favorites - John Downing

John Downing

Reviews

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2017 Torti Pinot Noir Pavia
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Anyone looking for an outstanding Pinot Noir value will definitely want to purchase this latest release from the Torti Family. While there are a handful of top tier Italian Pinot Noirs, they are pricey and can't deliver the bang-for-the-buck that this one does. It's packed with a rounded palate of rich and savory red fruit flavors and a nice touch of acidity that keeps it fresh and lively.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Graci Etna Rosso
Review Date: 08-13-2018
This was certainly a standout at our recent staff Italian tasting and Graci continues to produce some of our favorite wines from Mt Etna. It's especially impressive as 2015 is considered a lesser vintage than 2014 on Etna yet Graci has over-delivered. This wonderful Rosso combines earthy dark fruit with fine prominent tannins and grippy acidity and lingering fruit on the finish.
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 WS 91

2015 Felsina "Fontalloro" Toscana
Review Date: 08-13-2018
For Felsina, Fontalloro represents their finest expression of Sangiovese. It's great even in the weakest of vintages which makes their 2015 a real show stopper. Although this exceptional Tuscan red has loads of fruit and can be appreciated today, it is sure to blossom with ample cellaring. Definitely one of the best Tuscan buys of the 2015 vintage.

2013 San Polino Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 08-13-2018
San Polino is one of my favorite wineries in Montalcino and their 2013 Brunello is sublime. It's both immensely fragrant and deeply flavorful and framed by fine ripe tannins and mouthwatering acidity. It showcases just how dense and complex Sangiovese can be. This dynamic couple are certified organic growers and age their wines in Slavonian oak casks. No chemicals or pesticides have ever been used on their estate. An outstanding 2013 Brunello.

2017 Elio Grasso Dolcetto d'Alba dei Grassi
Review Date: 08-06-2018
Gianluca Grasso is one of my very favorite producers of Dolcetto and his 2017 not only highlights riper fruit from a warmer vintage but also retains complexity and freshness. It's juicy and vibrant with delicious black cherry and berry fruit flavors and a distinct minerality throughout. Open this with pastas, cheese, meats and poultry.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2013 Negretti Barolo
Review Date: 08-06-2018
Negretti's 2013 Barolo is a terrific introduction to the category and is one that can be enjoyed today and over the next few years. It's loaded with rounded cherry fruit enhanced by notes of licorice and vanilla oak spicing and an overall freshness and depth. Open and enjoy with grilled meats, bbq and heartier dishes.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 94

2016 Silvano Follador "Cartizze" Prosecco Superiore Brut Nature
Review Date: 08-06-2018
In my opinion, Silvano Follador is the finest producer of Prosecco. That's a bold statement but after having tasted hundreds over the past 22 years, I think his expertise with the Glera grape is unparalleled. The vineyards of Cartizze are considerd the finest within the Prosecco DOCG and Follador's latest (produced from his vineyards there) is stunning. It's fresh and complex with a persitent perlage and long finish. And, it's hard to believe just how much complexity exists in this bone-dry sparkler. The pinnacle of Prosecco.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

2017 Tenuta Roveglia Chiaretto Rosé
Review Date: 08-06-2018
Roveglia's whites are among our favorite of late from Italy and we think their rose will be met with the same level of enthusiasm. There's so much going on here as the wine combines bold floral and red fruit aromas with a dry, crisp yet fruit-laden palate. There's just the right amount of richness and weight for more substantial cuisine yet the wine remains light on its feet.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
VN 90

2015 Felsina "Rancia" Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 07-23-2018
Personally, I've long held that Felsina's Chianti Classico Riserva "Rancia" rarely, if ever, shows its stuffing on release. It normally needs a bit of cellaring to come together yet the 2015 is blessed with such ample richness that it's really sensational from the outset. It's smooth, silky and concentrated today but deceptive underlying structure is sure to emerge with age. Simply outstanding.

2013 Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-23-2018
The Poggio Salvi 2013 Brunello is a medium-bodied beauty with subtle red fruit and fine ripe tannins that really drinks nicely now. That's not to say it won't continue to do so for several years but it's delicious now and an impressive value at this price.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 WE 91

2016 Villa Poggio Salvi Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-23-2018
We have no shortage of requests for good, sub $20 Rosso di Montalcinos and we're always pleased when we can recommend one of this quality. Salvi's latest offers a high-toned expression of Sangiovese with bright cherry fruit and supporting acidity that lifts the wine across the palate. It's a pure expression of this noble grape that is best at the dinner table.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2017 Villa Poggio Salvi "Caspagnolo" Chianti Colli Senesi
Review Date: 07-23-2018
We're so glad that we have the privilege of importing this impressive Chianti from Poggio Salvi. It's a lot of wine that definitely exceeds its price and this 2017 is really delicious. Expressive earthy plum and cherry fruit aromas with a hint of cedar join a round palate with bright flavors and plenty of acidity. It outshines the typical bistro red and pairs with a wide variety of meats and stews.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

2015 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 07-09-2018
The 2015 Nozzole Chianti Riserva is soft and concentrated with lots of warm red fruit flavors and bright acidity that livens it on the palate. It's surprisingly approachable, ready to be opened at the dinner table and especially good with meats, poultry and cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Calera "40th Anniversary Vintage" Central Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-25-2018
Josh Jensen's Calera Pinot Noir has long been one of my favorites in the price range and his 2015 is really impressive. Thanks to very low yields, this is an especially rich and complex wine with loads of spiced red fruit flavors, ample weight and acidity that drinks nicely but will cellars for a few years as well. This is an outstanding pick for Pinot Noir lovers.

2015 Graci "Arcuria" Etna Bianco
Review Date: 06-19-2018
This stunner is sure to turn a few heads and certainly gives white Burgundy a run for the money. It offers up an aromatic mix of orchard fruit, peach and mineral as well as a full and round palate with great acidity and length on the finish. This is one of the finer white wines of Mount Etna for sure.

2016 Biondi "Pianta" Etna Bianco
Review Date: 06-19-2018
We're big fans of Ciro Biondi both personally and professionally and his "Pianta" is a strong testament to the outstanding results he's getting from his vineyards. This old vines white is a blend of mostly Carricante with Cataratto and Minella that spends a total of nine months aging in older French barrels. It's deep, complex and refined and will appeal especially to those who love white Burgundy. Although stunning on its own, it shines at the table with seafood and white meat dishes.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2016 Graci Etna Bianco
Review Date: 06-19-2018
This outstanding Etna Bianco also happens to be produced by one of our favorite producers and it always flies off the shelves. There's great demand for Etna wines at the moment and we are glad Graci's 2016 Bianco has finally landed. It's a mix of minerals, almond and yellow fruit on the nose and is round and citrusy on the palate with fresh, grippy acidity on the finish. If you haven't yet tried white wine from the slopes of Mount Etna, this is a great place to start.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 WS 90

2016 Cantina Valle Isarco "Aristos" Pinot Grigio
Review Date: 06-11-2018
Pinot Grigio is widely available and often justifiably maligned for lacking complexity and depth but Valle Isarco's "Aristos" is a testament to how exceptional it can be. This special alpine white makes a powerful statement with its aromas and flavors of mineral, apple skin and red fruit notes and its round and layered palate that leaves a lengthy finish and lasting impression. Those hesitant to purchase Pinot Grigio will want to give this one a go.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart
DC 97

2014 Pranzegg "Laurenc" Lagrein
Review Date: 06-11-2018
We love Lagrein and Pranzegg is one of the best we've tasted of late. Not only for its nose of black fruit, florals, earth, smoke and herb but also for its mouth-coating and fleshy black fruit. There's not much of this impressive Lagrein available so fans of this varietal will definitely want to pick up a bottle or two while it's in stock.
Price: $38.99 Add To Cart

2012 Alfio Mozzi "Grisone" Sassella
Review Date: 06-11-2018
This alpine Nebbiolo from Italy's Valtellina zone captures a gentler and more subtle side of this noble grape. It highlights scents of earthy cherry and mint and juicy dark red fruit flavors with a great mid-palate presence and finish. Try this one with braised meats, poultry and cheese based dishes.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$27.99

2017 Pra "Morandina" Valpolicella Superiore
Review Date: 06-11-2018
This was an immediate staff favorite at a recent tasting here at the store and it made a number of us rethink Valpolicella. The best Valpolicella fruit goes to making Amarone and because so much of the remaining fruit is used to make Ripasso, its been a challenge to source great Valpolicella of late. Thankfully Pra is back in our market. This enchanting wine is an intoxicating combination of spiced red fruit aromas and a juicy palate of the same with a deceptively long finish. It's medium-bodied and shows best with a slight chill. This makes it and ideal Summer red for sure.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2016 Quintodecimo "Jaune d'Arles" Greco di Tufo
Review Date: 06-11-2018
Professor Luigi Moio and his wife began their winery in 2001 and have taken Campania's red and white winemaking to another level. Moio's painstaking work has resulted in some of the finest wines of the region. We were especially captivated by his 2016 Greco di Tufo. This stunning white combines the classic mineral character of Greco and a layered palate of orchard fruit with a very long finish. It's certainly among the best white wines of Southern Italy.
Price: Hidden View Price
WE 92

2015 La Monacesca "Mirum" Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva
Review Date: 06-11-2018
With its combination of late picked fruit and high acidity, Aldo Cifola's "Mirum" is a rare delight. While most of his contemporaries in the Matelica zone produce crisper versions of Verdicchio, Cifola gives his grapes extended hang time prior to harvesting and the result is a richer, weightier and more complex white that pairs well with a wide variety of foods. We drank this wine with heavier pasta dishes and white meats and were pleasantly surprised. Verdicchio at its best.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart
VN 91

2017 Pra Soave Classico "Otto"
Review Date: 06-11-2018
Pra has always been one of my favorite Soave producers and since we're currently out of the stellar Le Battistelle wines, I'm glad we can offer their 2017 "Otto". It's rich and round with delicious apple and melon fruit and excellent acidity throughout. We're not surprised that our first drop sold out almost as fast as it arrived but there's more on the way. This is Soave at its best.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2016 Andrea Felici Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Superiore
Review Date: 05-28-2018
Having had the good fortune to travel through Le Marche on several occasions, I've long had an affection for great Verdicchio. There are a number of excellent ones that certainly stand out and Andrea Felici produces one of them for sure. His latest combines pear, lemon and mineral in a bright racy palate with wonderful texture and crisp acidity. Pair this with vegetable dishes, seafood, lighter pastas and white meats.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
DC 94

2017 Leone de Castris "Five Roses" Rosato
Review Date: 05-28-2018
The "Five Roses" comes to us from one of the best producers in Italy's well known Salento region (Puglia).Although Leone di Castris is best known for their impressive Salice Salentino Riserva, their rose shines as well. This tasty and flavorful Summer delight highlights delicious cherry flavors that cross the palate in a medium-bodied and somewhat textured quaff with mild acidity and lingering fruit on the finish. It's a bit broader and fruitier than the typical Provencal versions and is great on its own or with lighter fare.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Planeta Nero d'Avola "Santa Cecilia"
Review Date: 05-22-2018
"Santa Cecilia" has long been one of the reference points for Nero d'Avola in Sicily. It's a substantial red that is deceptively complex yet immediately drinkable and produced from vineyards planted in the South Eastern corner of Sicily below Syracuse where Nero d'Avola finds its best expression. There's an overall freshness that, like the best Neros, sets it apart from some of its ultra ripe, sun baked contemporaries. We think you'll especially love the impressive spiced red fruit this wine is famous for. Open with heartier foods.
Price: $37.99 Add To Cart

2015 Planeta "La Segreta" Nero d'Avola Sicilia
Review Date: 05-21-2018
La Segreta Nero d'Avola is Planeta's outstanding versatile and value-priced wine that is always a welcome addition to our Italian section. Their 2016 offers surprising depth and freshness with plenty of concentration and length. Flavors of black cherry and blackberry abound in this ready-to-drink Southern Italian red. Pairs well with a wide variety of foods.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2016 Moulin de la Gardette "Cuvée Ventabren" Gigondas
Review Date: 05-14-2018
The more recent vintages of "Ventabren" have been outstanding but the 2016 is the best I've tasted to-date from this estate. There's an overall, complexity, depth and finesse that make this special. The house style shows through with its signature peppery black fruit, garrigue and spice. It's immediately lithe and seamless upfront while deceptive tannins fill out the finish and make this a very complete wine. The 2016 Ventabren is a showstopper that is comparable to far pricier and better known Rhone wines.

2013 Castello di Bossi "Berardo" Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 05-14-2018
One thing I greatly appreciate about Castello di Bossi (along with a number of other highly regarded estates)is that their Chianti Riserva is exactly what it should be. Meaning, rather than being more concentrated and obscured by new oak, the fruit from their older vines truly shines. Their 2013 Berardo highlights intoxicating aromas and flavors of blackberry and cherry fruit and ranks among the best of the vintage from Berardegna. And, while ripe tannins add a bit of backbone to the palate, they're hidden under some very impressive primary fruit. Open now and enjoy this one.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

Mederfil Lambrusco Reggiano Rosso Dolce
Review Date: 05-08-2018
Thanks to an increase in the number of high quality Lambruscos being imported of late, the demand for this classic frizzante wine has risen substantially. Since we have several outstanding dry versions in stock, we added this delightful off-dry one to our cellar. It's fairly concentrated with sweet blackberry and black cherry flavors and a pleasant effervescence that livens the palate. This is especially good with spicier and saltier dishes or simply on its own.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2015 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 05-07-2018
Felsina's latest Chianti Riserva has finally arrived and since we could barely keep the prior release in stock, we anticipate their impressive 2015 will be met with similar fanfare. Although it's beginning to open a bit from its adolescent slumber, it's certain to fill out and gain stature with ample cellaring. This wonderful 100 percent Sangiovese opens with scents of dark wild berry fruit, minerals and polished leather notes and continues on to a smoothly textured palate of berry fruit, ripe tannins and perfectly integrated oak. Give this one plenty of aeration after opening or let it cellar for a couple of years.
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 VN 92

2015 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico
Review Date: 05-07-2018
The wines of Castello di Bossi have long maintained a great following at K&L and we're expecting a host of positive responses with the release of their outstanding 2015 Chianti Classico. Fragrant aromas of plum, cherry and cedar greet a juicy palate with fully ripe tannins, moderate acidity and a delicious red fruit finish. It's a very pleasant Chianti with no rough edges that's perfect to drink now and over the next few years.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2015 Cecchi Villa Cerna "Primocolle" Chianti Classico
Review Date: 05-07-2018
Villa Cerna satisfies the recent demand for a reasonably priced, daily drinker Chianti. It's medium-bodied, juicy and full of bright strawberry flavors. And, thanks to fully ripe tannins and mild acidity, it's perfect to open now with a wide variety of foods.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2015 Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso
Review Date: 04-30-2018
Caprai's 2015 Rosso really shows the strength of the vintage and is one of his best in years. It's a classic blend Sangiovese, Merlot and Sagrantino that highlights delicious plum and black fruit flavors with a hint of minerals and fine ripe tannins that add to the wine's overall depth and texture. And, it's priced under $20 which makes it not only one of the best deals in our Italian section currently but also a wonderful alternative to its value priced Tuscan contemporaries.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 92 RP 90

2015 Paitin di Pasquero "Serra" Barbera d'Alba
Review Date: 04-30-2018
The Pasquero family produces excellent wine at better than average prices and their 2015 Barbera d'Alba has finally hit our cellar floor. A number of us had the opportunity to taste this impressive wine a few months prior and have been anxiously awaiting the arrival. It's an immanently drinkable Barbera that's dense, smooth in texture and packed with mouthwatering red berry fruit flavors. And, the acidity enlivens the fruit and lengthens the finish. It's ideal with pizza, red sauce pastas, meats, cheeses and burgers.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2014 Elvio Cogno Pre-Phyloxera Barbera d'Alba
Review Date: 04-23-2018
Winegrower Valter Fissore learned from one of the best in Barolo, Elvio Cogno. Married to Cogno's daughter Nadia, he has followed in Cogno's footsteps and is, in my opinion, one of the most talented winemakers in the Langhe. His pre-phyloxera Barbera is produced from vines spared from the disease (and from disease resistant American rootstock) that afflicted European winegrowers. This very rare and aromatic wine is dense in texture, rich in flavor, and the essence of Barbera past. We had the pleasure of tasting it recently and can attest that it's worth every penny.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2013 Capezzana Carmignano Villa di Capezzana
Review Date: 04-16-2018
Carmignano is a lesser known yet important subzone (located just northwest of Florence)of Tuscany that has held the long tradition of blending Cabernet with Sangiovese. Capezzana remains the benchmark producer here and their 2013 is a classic. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet, it's juicy and medium-bodied with red fruit from the Sangiovese taking the lead while the Cabernet fills in the palate with a nice touch of dark chocolate. A fine layer of tannins adds a pleasant touch of structure to this wonderful Tuscan red.

2015 Cascina Ca' Rossa "Vigna Mulassa" Barbera d'Alba
Review Date: 04-16-2018
Cascina Ca'Rossa is located in Roero, the zone adjacent to Barolo and Barbaresco that is best known for the production of Arneis. Their "Mulassa" Barbera comes from the vineyard of the same name where predominantly sandy soils yield grapes that result in highly aromatic and flavorful wine. It's aged in large Slavonian oak casks which allows it to showcase rich, high toned earthy black cherry and black berry fruit amplified by ample acidity. This is a first class Barbera that is more than worth the price. Great with hot appetizers and substantial pastas.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

San Venanzio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut
Review Date: 04-16-2018
San Venanzio Brut certainly stands out amongst its peers and remains one of the finest quality Proseccos we've come across at this tremendous price. Known for its vibrant fruit, bright florals, minerality and exceptional balance, this creamy, fresh sparkler continues to impress.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2013 Fratelli Barale Barolo
Review Date: 04-16-2018
One of the reasons we cherish our direct import program is that we have the opportunity to offer our customers impressive wines at incredible prices. Barale's first-rate 2013 is one of the steals among our Italian selections currently especially in light of the going rate for Barolo. This medium-bodied gem offers an aromatic array of pretty red fruit, dried florals, earth and cedar and a seamless palate with a bright snap of acidity on the finish. Although it can be enjoyed today after ample aeration, it's certain to improve in the cellar.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico
Review Date: 04-16-2018
After just one sip of this wine I was immediately reminded why owner Paolo De Marchi has developed such a sterling reputation and following. His 2015 Chianti Classico is simply sublime. It's a seamless blend of mostly Sangiovese with small amounts of Canaiolo and Syrah that showcases lush cherry and plum flavors with polished tannins and perfectly integrated acidity. This is one of the finer Chiantis I've tasted in some time and I have no doubt many will share my sentiment.
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2015 San Vincenti Chianti Classico
Review Date: 04-16-2018
San Vincenti is one of the more recent and impressive additions to our Italian section that took us a bit by surprise during an LA staff tasting. It's medium-to-full-bodied with earthy layered blackberry and black cherry fruit and a healthy dose of ripe tannnins throughout. While aged in and rounded by small French barrels, the fruit in this wine takes center stage. This substantial Chianti will only improve with a year of cellaring.
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2014 Cascina Alberta "Giacone" Barbaresco
Review Date: 04-10-2018
The wines of Cascina Alberta are welcome new arrivals to K&L and outstanding values at their respective price points. We're especially taken with their Barbaresco for its classic aromas of cherries, mint, minerals and a hint of licorice as well as its bright, medium-bodied palate. There's just the right balance of fruit and acidity and the wine can be enjoyed today or over the next few of years.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2016 Tenuta Le Calcinaie Ingredienti Uva (100% Sangiovese)
Review Date: 04-10-2018
Le Calcinaie is a small Tuscan estate close to the town of San Gimignano and one of our favorite in this area. Not only are the wines certified organic but also owner Simone Santini has chosen to produce this wonderful 100% Sangiovese entirely in steel tanks without the use of sulphur. It's texturally plush and round yet pleasantly structured with some youthful tannins and acidity that emerge on the finish. The combination of earthy Tuscan terrior and primary black fruit make this perfect with hearty pastas, meats and firm cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
VN 92

2015 Cantina Terlan "Gries" Lagrein Riserva
Review Date: 04-02-2018
Terlano's "Gries" is among the finest examples of Lagrien in Alto Adige. The grapes are harvested near Bolzano and result in a wonderfully aromatic wine with heady scents of earthy dark plum, dark cherry and blackberry fruit and a velvety palate with rounded tannins. 2015 was a very warm and dry year that yielded small, concentrated grapes. Cantina Terlan managed to harvest at just the right moment making this an especially full-flavored, memorable Lagrien.
Price: $35.99 Add To Cart

2015 Pecchenino Dolcetto Siri D'Jermu
Review Date: 04-02-2018
Pecchenino is one of the top estates in the Dogliani zone where nearly all of the vineyards are planted to Dolcetto. This native grape thrives in this slightly higher altitude area adjacent to Barolo and Barbaresco. "Siri d'Jermu" is a densely packed Dolcetto with dark berry and cherry fruit flavors that envelope big ripe tannins and a fair amount of acidity. Although a few months of aging in large casks has toned the wine and made it somewhat accessible now, it definitely opens with ample aeration and is at its best with food. An impressive Dolcetto.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 92

2013 Giacomo Ascheri Barolo
Review Date: 03-31-2018
The past several vintages of this impressive and well-priced Barolo have been consistently good and wildly popular with our customers. Matteo Ascheri is a real pro and his 2013 reflects this excellent vintage. It's a classic style Barolo with ample weight, texture and finesse and plenty of delicious spiced red fruit. While the tannins are big, they're not austere and are well integrated. This is an impressive Barolo at the price and will cellar well or drink nicely in the near term.

2011 Bocale Sagrantino di Montefalco
Review Date: 03-26-2018
Quite a few customers and even a couple of my esteemed colleagues have been whispering about Bocale for some time now. Well, we not only have their wonderful 2011 Sagrantino in stock, but also are offering it at a terrific price. It's an exuberant, richly flavored red with surprisingly ripe tannins and just the right touch of French oak. Bocale is a pleasant contrast to the also excellent more tannic/rustic versions of Sagrantino and will appeal to those who love powerful, fruit-driven reds.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
VN 91 RP 90

2016 Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 03-26-2018
While I tasted this recently I was immediately reminded why the arrival of this wine is always eagerly anticipated. It's a tremendous value and delivers even in lesser vintages. St Cosme's 2016 offers some impressive concentration and surprising assertive tannins that are enveloped by mouth-filling black fruit. This one hundred percent Syrah is the ideal foil for lamb and most certainly shines with meats, firm aged cheeses and heartier fare.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

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