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K&L Staff Recommendations
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This crisp and balanced wine offers lemon, guava and papaya, tropical without being cloying. With enough viscous creaminess to keep it medium in weight, it’s soft and herbal, with measured acidity and a golden color. It finishes lean and savory." (8/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are an astonishing 14,000 cases of the 2013 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. It reveals good minerality along with crisp, honeysuckle, orange zest, white peach and tropical fruit notes. At $15 a bottle, this medium-bodied, fresh, lively Chardonnay is a sensational value. Drink it ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "Banshee's 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) is supple, racy and flat-out delicious, especially for the money. Raspberries, crushed flowers and soft spices linger on the effortless, gracious finish. Drink this soft Pinot over the next few years. This is one of the best values readers will find in Sonoma Pinot Noir. (Antonio Galloni)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: As difficult as it is to produce excellent Pinot Noir, it is even more difficult to do so at a fine value. In their development of the Banshee label, the winemakers gained a stable of quality sources for Pinot fruit fro... Read More »
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, which sources this Pinot Noir mostly from the Sangiacomo vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. Great aromatics of red fruit and orange peel and a smooth finish.
91 points Wine Spectator: "Presents a lively, refreshing, complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors, firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. 6,000 cases made.—J.L." (6/2015) K&L Notes: From our friends at Amici in Napa Valley, this great value Pinot Noir is sourced mainly from the Russian River Valley. Last year's lovely little 2012 (we've still got some as of this release) was scored 90 points by Wine Enthusiast: "It’s rare to get a twenty buck Pinot Noir this good." And Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar agreed, scoring the 2012 90 point... Read More »
93 points Wine & Spirits: "A captivating balancing act, this blend of fruit from the Camp Meeting Ridge estate and other coastal sites feels at once concentrated and weightless. The first impression is one of healthy, plump fruit-ripe apricot, perhaps a hint of caramelized sugar-but it hews to a clean line, the flavors growing more earthy as taut acidity pulls toward crisp, green-tinged suggestions of seashells and borage flowers. More than the flavors themselves, it’s the overall impression of satiny grace that gives this coastal white its beauty." (4/2015)92 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Son ...Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Lytton Springs is quite reserved, compact and inward at this stage. There is good density and depth in the glass, but the elements aren't fully formed just yet. While most of Ridge's 2012s are quite open today, that is not at all the case with the Lytton Springs. The 2012 is going to need time. In 2012, Lytton Springs is 70% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane and 4% Mataro (Mourvèdre)." (7/2014)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* Although its aromas do not jump from the glass, this carefully made Zin exhibits fine focus and very articulate varietal fruit that gai ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This beautiful Pinot Noir is a blend of various vineyards throughout the appellation. It shows classic coastal acidity, dryness and silkiness, with appealing raspberry, red licorice, cola and pomegranate flavors, wrapped into finely ground tannins. Decant and drink now." (6/2014) Antonio Galloni: "Sweet red berries, mint, flowers, hard candy and spices all inform the 2012 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast), the only 2012 Pinot that was in bottle at the time of this tasting. The 2012 is quite a bit racier and silkier than the 2011, a wine I have enjoyed on multiple occasions. There i ...Read More »
Olema is produced by the folks at Amici Cellars. Fruit was sourced from select vineyards around Sonoma County and blended with a splash of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.The wine was aged for more than a year in 30% new French oak before bottling.
From the winery: "Medium-garnet color. Briar, cherry/plum nose, with clay mineral, dried herbs, oak spice. Elegant fresh-raspberry entry; soft, textured tannins; sweet oak. Good finish."
MacRostie's Sonoma Coast bottling is definitely a top choice for an under-$20 California Chardonnay. Grapes were sourced from several select Sonoma Coast vineyards including the "A-list" Sangiacomo Vineyard, vineyards belonging to the Dutton and Martinelli estates, and MacRostie's own estate properties. The beatifully ripe and pristine fruit was whole-cluster pressed into 20% new French oak for fermentation where it aged for an additional 6 months. A few lots were fermented in stainless steel to retain some special emphasis on aromatic fruit characterist... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A California Côtes du Rhône look-alike, the 2012 Mountain Cuvée is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 8% Zinfandel and the rest small dollops of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec aged 14 months in mostly French oak. It reveals spicy, peppery, meaty notes intermixed with hints of Provençal herbs, dense black cherry and plum-like fruit, medium to full body, an attractive texture, and a seductive finish. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (11/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "An unidentified mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sourced from throughout t ...Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "A lively, zesty red that offers bright cherry and tarragon aromas and sleekly layered flavors of briary raspberry, nutmeg and fresh-cracked black pepper. Drink now through 2021." (12/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Zinfandel Sonoma is an exuberant, richly fruity, medium-bodied effort displaying plenty of raspberry, blueberry and cherry fruit, 14.8% natural alcohol, and a lusty personality. It should drink well for several years." (12/2014) K&L Notes: Seghesio blends Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel into the Sonoma County, with loads of dark fruit supported by brambly fla... Read More »
93 points Wine Spectator: "Pure and focused, with a vivid core of white peach, nectarine and tangerine flavors. Tangy acidity gives this a chalky, minerally edge and a long, persistent and captivating finish. Drink now through 2022.— J.L." Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: ""If the Kistler Winery could be magically transported to the middle of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, it would quickly gain a reputation as glorious as any producer of Burgundy grand crus." — Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate" K&L Notes: Raved about by the winery, Kistler's 2013 "Sonoma Mountain" Chardonnay "shows great finess with a bit more... Read More »
90 points Wine & Spirits: "Fragrant with scents of rose petal and pinecone, this is clean and brisk. Lifted rather than layered or complex, it’s ready to decant for herb-stuffed trout baked in parchment." (4/2015)90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Shy and reserved, this cool-climate wine opens coyly with a burst of spearmint on the nose, evolving into layers of flavor steeped in rhubarb, black cherry and tea. Soft and lilting, the wine’s finish conjures thoughts of strawberry cream." (7/2015) Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is an excellent choice for drinking now and over the next few years. The flavors are floral ...Read More »
Lyeth's Meritage is a blend of the five red Bordeaux varietals with 58% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. With grapes sourced from select vineyards across Sonoma County, it is the flagship wine of the estate and delivers an excellent value. From the winery: "A brilliant garnet in color, this Meritage is rich with aromas of dark cherry, plum, and boysenberry with subtle notes of mocha and cedar completing the nose. Flavors of blackberry and anise are lush and pronounced on the palate and are followed by hi... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Wine Spectator: "Crisp and lively, with green apple, cream and fennel aromas and vibrant tropical fruit. The lemon and spice flavors finish on a clean mineral note." (11/2013) Connoisseurs Guide: "J's new Cuvée 20 is an inviting, very-easy-to-sip bubbly, the star player in which is lively, lightly candied, lemon-like fruit, yet there is a nice trim of subtle yeastiness at work as well, and the wine is clear about its champenized origins. It is fresh, clean tasting and frothy, and, while it finishes with plenty of bright, palate-cleansing acidity, it is never so tart or austere that it cannot a ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This winery deserves kudos for their remarkable cuvées of Fumé Blanc, all of which qualify as values. A fabulous bargain, the 2013 Fumé Blanc Sonoma (25,000 cases produced) is not put through malolactic, 70% is aged in stainless steel and 30% in older oak. It offers flowery, perfumed, melony, caramelized grapefruit and citrus notes, medium body, exuberant, fresh, lively fruit, and outstanding purity as well as texture. (RP)" (12/2014) Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Fume Blanc is a pretty, aromatic white to drink now and over the next year or two. Green apple, pear and jasmine a ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is gorgeous. Apricots, honey, mint, orange blossom and wild flowers are all laced together in the glass in a racy, perfumed Chardonnay to drink over the next handful of years. Simply put, this is a fabulous wine for the money. The 2013 was done 90% in oak and 10% in steel. (AG)" (1/2015)
According to the winery: "In 2014 our main goal with Sauvignon Blanc was simply to make a worthy follow up to its wildly popular predecessor. Given the quality of 2013, not an easy task. The vintage fortunately blessed us with the conditions to do so and we are proud to offer this version. We again worked with the same vineyards in the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys to craft a medium bodied, brisk, and eminently crowd pleasing wine. Our vineyard sources have vines ranging from 10 to 32 years old and a feature a variety of clonal selections. As in ye... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The amazing 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast possesses lots of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, pineapple and tangerine notes. Half went through malolactic and the other half was blocked. With lots of minerality as well as a Chablis-like character, it is a major sleeper of the vintage. This beauty should drink well for 1-2 years. (RP)" (12/2013) Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is beautiful. All the elements fall into place nicely in a Chardonnay that is bright and crisp, but with good depth in its fruit and no hard edges. Lemon oil, pear and pastry notes meld int ...Read More »
Napa Valley-based Louis M. Martini has always had a focus on Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, not least because Mr. Martini himself developed the Monte Rosso vineyard there in the 1930s. This county-wide blend, which Robert Parker Jr. has called "Always one of the best buys in Cabernet Sauvignon" (Wine Advocate, 10/2014), is generally a blend of Dry Creek Valley vineyards like Frei Ranch with Alexander Valley fruit.
89 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This is a beautiful Zinfandel and the good news is there are over 30,000 cases of it. Coming from three of Gallo’s top Zinfandel vineyards, Stephani, Frei Ranch and Chiotti, most of them in Dry Creek, this blend of 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petite Sirah tips the scales at a lofty 14.8% natural alcohol. The wine has a deep ruby color, and a seductive, peppery, meaty, Côte du Rhône-type nose revealing lavender and roasted herb characteristics. No hard edges are found in this medium to full-bodied, fleshy, nicely concentrated Zinfandel. Drink over the next 2-3 y ...Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Delivers a tight beam of cream-laced green apple, melon, citrus and honeydew flavors, supported by firm acidity and ending with a persistent, flavorful finish. Drink now. 9,300 cases made. (web only-2015)" Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Chardonnay Estate offers up notes of white currants, peaches and orange blossoms in a medium-bodied style displaying a hint of wet rocks/minerality. The oak component is subtle, and the wine’s fruit dominates. This attractive 2013 will be flexible with an assortment of dishes over the next 4-5 years." (12/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Spicy Asian pear dominates in this l ...Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Refreshingly clean and vibrant, with well-structured flavors of snappy raspberry and wild berry, offering firm, modest tannins and a complex aftertaste that echoes dusty earth details. Drink now through 2021. 1,200 cases made." (6/2015)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The biggest cuvée is the 20,100 cases of their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma, which comes from their estate vineyards in Bennett Valley. This is blended with about 5.5% Sauvignon and has almost 22% of the Musqué Clone, which gives the wine more tropical and exotic characteristics. The wine is dry, delicious, and offers up notes of honeyed figs, exotic melons, fresh acids and crisp lemon blossom with a touch or orange skin. It’s quite refreshing, medium-bodied and beautifully fruited. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (12/2014)
Willowbrook is a largely under-the-radar label from Joe Otos, winemaker at Owl Ridge Wines in Sebastopol. We've got some great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from choice vineyards from Willowbrook in the past, and now this Syrah. It comes from the Altes Vineyard, located in the Rincon Valley area in the middle of Sonoma County--not far from the hot Kick Ranch vineyard.
90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Syrah Estate is gorgeous. Dark, red and plummy, the 2012 impresses for the purity of its fruit and radiance. Peay does not have a mid-tier Sonoma Coast bottling, so all the fruit that does not go into the two single-vineyard Syrahs goes into this tasty, entry-level bottling. Sweet floral notes grace the silky finish. Peay does an excellent job with Cep, their sister label of budget-friendly wines. All of these current releases are tasty. The Syrah is the standout, as it is made up of declassified barrels of the two Peay vineyard designate, Syra ...Read More »
91 points Antonio Galloni: "Lemon peel, white flowers and mint are some of the notes that take shape in the 2012 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast). Softened a bit by the generosity of the year, the 2012 is unusually open and expressive today. Drink this supple, textured Chardonnay over the next handful of years. (AG)" (1/2015)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "This rich, carefully proportioned young wine shows many of the same pieces and very nearly the same sense of admirable depth of its pricier, single-site mates, and it does so in a slightly more open manner. It is full and firm in feel with plenty of balancing acidity s ...Read More »
"The 2013 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay from Sonoma County has superior lots of wine from our vineyards in Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Carneros. This full-bodied Chardonnay boasts aromas of pear, green apple, honeydew, orange, lychee and peach perfectly balanced by a fruity entry with refreshing acidity with flavors of Meyer lemon, honeysuckle, vanilla, pineapple and a floral finish," explains the winery.
91 points Wine & Spirits: "With its brambly fruit and peppery, earthen tannins, Quivira’s 2012 is spot-on Dry Creek zin. It feels concentrated yet fresh, lasting on a woody spice tone that seems to come from the fruit rather than oak—an impression of sap drawn through a vine toward the sun. Pour it at cellar temperature this summer with grilled pork chops." (10/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Opaque ruby. Ripe cherry and blackberry on the nose, with a subtle note of candied flowers in the background. Quite fleshy, with dense cherry and dark berry flavors enlivened by juicy acidity and a touch of peppery spic ...Read More »
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Dark red. Musky blackberry and cherry pit scents are complicated by notes of licorice, underbrush and mocha. Offers sappy dark berry and bitter cherry flavors that take on a tart edge with air, along with a touch of rhubarb. Finishes with good cut, grip and gentle tannins, leaving a note of orange marmalade behind." (6/2014) Wine Spectator: "Offers a pleasing mix of fresh, snappy wild berry and blueberry, turning simple but holding the flavors longer than most Flowers wines. Pinot Noir, Syrah, Pinot Meunier, Dolcetto and Chardonnay. Drink now. (Web-2013)" K&L Notes: The 2011 Flowers... Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "Pahlmeyer's 2013 Chardonnay is gorgeous and also a fascinating contrast to Chardonnay from the family's Wayfarer property on the Sonoma Coast. Here, though, it is the Russian River that speaks with notable eloquence. Orange blossom, butter, new French oak, apricot pit, mint and spice notes abound. The 2013 is quite extroverted in style, but less overt than in years past. The new Francois Freres barrels are evident but also very nicely integrated. The 2013 is the first vintage made exclusively from Ritchie Vineyard fruit, whereas in the past, grapes from ...Read More »
90 points Wine & Spirits: "This wine’s initial impression of oak makes way for intense, coastal chardonnay fruit: the juicy, on-point ripeness of midsummer peaches lifted into seashell and airy chamomile tones—a big wine that maintains a buzz of energy." (10/2014) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Here is a wine that is easy to recommend for its combination of very fresh, well-defined, green-apple fruit as well as its brightness and fine balance. It is cleansing and crisp yet sports a fair sense of depth with integral highlights of minerals and a careful touch of sweet oak, and, while moderately full-bo ...Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Appealing, with a rustic personality. Wild berry, underbrush and cracked pepper aromas combine with briary flavors of dried cherry, orange zest, bitter chocolate and licorice. The tannins sneak in on the finish. Zinfandel, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet and Pelrousin. Drink now through 2022. 732 cases made." (4/2015)
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Cellar Selection* Made from estate-grown fruit near the chilly Sonoma Coast town of Freestone, this is a fully layered wine, expertly balanced in acidity yet offering plenty of full-figured mouthfeel and viscous pleasure. It delivers an electric mix of Meyer lemon, minerals and brioche, and will please a diverse range of palates." (9/2014)93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Freestone Vineyard has turned out beautifully. Lemon oil, almonds, dried pears, spices and lightly honeyed notes meld together in an effortless, gracious wine long on personality and class. The oily, ...Read More »
93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Inky ruby. A complex bouquet presents dark fruit liqueur, licorice, violet and fruitcake, with a smoky overtone and a hint of black pepper. Stains the palate with sappy boysenberry and cherry-cola flavors that spread out on the back half and pick up a suave floral pastille nuance. Dusty tannins build through a sweet, strikingly persistent finish brightened by a vibrant, spicy jolt of peppery spices. I suspect that this will be the longest-lived of this year's set of Zins here, but I don't think that it will take forever to unfold, either." (5/2014)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two St ...Read More »
92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright purple. Youthfully wound-up aromas of blackberry, mulberry and violet, plus a strong note of licorice. Deeply pitched dark fruit flavors are given an exotic character by notes of violet pastille and star anise. Supple and expansive on the firm, gripping, intensely spicy finish. This textbook syrah should age well. (ST)" (5/2011) Antonio Galloni: "The 2009 Syrah Estate Vineyard shows the wilder side of the grape in its red cherries, black pepper, spices and herbs. Medium in body, it possesses good balance and energy through to the finish. (AG)" (8/2011) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2009 Syrah E ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "A bit sparing in obvious fruit and showing a certain vaguely stony cast to its balanced but brief, mildly citrusy flavors, this cleanly made middleweight is something of a minimalist, but it shows nary a hint of the candied confection that routinely comes with inexpensive Chardonnays and is thus a useful and fairly versatile wine to pour with sundry seafoods." (5/2015)
95 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Lytton Springs has really come together over the last year, far exceeding my early expectations. Powerful and explosive in the glass, the 2013 boasts tons of inky blue/purplish fruit, mocha, spices, new leather, lavender and licorice. Readers will have to give the Lytton Springs at least a few years to shed some baby fat, but it is nearly impossible to resist, even at this early stage. Once again, the team at Ridge has produced an absolutely compelling Lytton Springs. The 16% Petite Sirah in the blend adds an unmistakable air of gravitas. (AG) ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
By focusing exclusively on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Patz & Hall has become one of the standout names among California wineries intent on stealing a bit of Burgundy's thunder. The 2012 edition of their Sonoma Coast blend scored 90 points with Wine Advocate, Stephen Tanzer, and Wine Enthusiast. Props from Robert Parker: "Patz and Hall has long been a model for how to run a high-quality négociant business, buying fruit from top vineyards and crafting it into wines that can compete with the finest from estate vineyards. They now own one estate vineyard, bu... Read More »
Enkidu is a small, nearly under-the-radar outfit based in a warehouse south of the town of Sonoma, co-founded by career winemaker Phillip Staehle, that turns out big wines with concentration and individuality. The Old Vine field blend includes grapes from the 125-year-old Bedrock vineyard in the Sonoma Valley.
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Montana Vineyard is cut from the same cloth. Its opaque purple color and sweet creme de cassis fruit intermixed with crushed rock and forest floor notes lead to a broad, rich, full-bodied mouthfeel with excruciatingly high tannins and intense power and richness. It should be forgotten for at least a decade. (RP)" (10/2013) 92-94 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Montana Vineyard stands out for its delineation and nuance. A vibrant, powerful wine, the 2010 faithfully expresses the signatures of this site. Violets, cloves, black ...Read More »
Mike Berthoud worked under Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean, then was winemaker at Arrowood Winery. After 15 years at Arrowood, Mike moved on to Mayo Family Winery. Ursus is comprised of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. Winemaker's notes: "As always all of the grapes used to produce the blend are grown on the Berthoud estate. Ursus is the Latin word for Bear, while Berthoud is pronounced Bear-2. Just like the bear, Ursus is a muscular wine while maintaining an elegant balance. It is an old world style wine that is... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "A well-crafted blending from several marquee vineyards within the producer’s portfolio, this is a subtle, flirty and floral white, vibrant and dusted in minerality. An intense back beat of oak and power balances on the finish, in between a flurry of complex, compelling pear, apple and salty hazelnut." (5/2015)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Pale, bright yellow. Inviting aromas of lemon, tropical fruits and fresh herbs, plus an exotic suggest of botrytis. At once silky and sappy, showing a slight acid edge to the flavors of yellow fruits, floral honey, clove and salty minerals. This c ...Read More »
According to the winery: "The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, and 4% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc. We sourced fruit from Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Sonoma Valley for this years assemblage. Each lot was individually fermented then blended and aged in French barrels ranging from 1-5 years old. A little riper and more fruit forward than the Hobo Cab. Camp Wines were created by the Hobo Wine Co. in 2011 to showcase the quality and value of Sonoma County wine. We are working with top growers and vineyard managers in... Read More »
Back in the 1980s, Matanzas Creek made big, buttery waves with their barrel-fermented Chardonnay--and the high price tag it commanded. It was so distinctive, the winery had a malolactic bacteria strain named after them: MCW. So what's new at Matanzas Creek, which is now part of the Jackson Family Wines stable? Quite a lot. For one, the Chardonnay is made by young Chilean-born winemaker Marcia Monahan, who spends a lot of time on the winery's burgeoning Sauvignon Blanc program...and she threw out the MCW for a less "buttery" malolactic fermentation! The r... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay Charm Acres is an exuberantly fruity effort displaying hints of tropical fruits, white peaches, no evidence of oak, and crisp, fresh, pure flavors. While not particularly complex, it will provide satisfying drinking over the next several years. It should be immensely popular among consumers." (12/2013) K&L Notes: Winemaker's Tasting Notes: "A big impressive Chardonnay with toasty oak, bread dough, lemon curd and lime zest. Rich with lively acid and great weight, mineral-laden and hints of lychee and pear on its long finish."