Understanding Vintage & Aging

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Shuffling through the wine shop- we restock, we straighten, and above all, we check vintages. So- it may seem basic, but here we go: What’s in a vintage? The vintage on the bottle is the year that the grapes were in the vineyard. That eventual fermented juice could spend a few years in a barrel, but the vintage will not change when it is bottled.  Some regions have aging requirements on the label to inform the consumer how long it was in the barrel (for example Crianza in Spain or Riserva in Tuscany) and some do not. And then, then there is non vintage (NV).  This is when a winemaker decides that blending of two or more years produces the results s/he wants. It is found most often in fortified or sparkling wines such as Champagne and ports.

Most wineries have their style for their wine and do their best to keep that mark.  Why does it matter if one year is different or not and what would make it any different?  Well, crafting wine is not the same as making legos. Winemakers cope with the weather, which (as we know in Seattle) is more variable than one might expect. As much as winemakers desire to hold true to their style, each year has a challenge.  For those of you that enjoy visiting wine country, you have heard the stories- and every year has them!

  • Early frost, or surprise frost for that matter
  • Hail– as seen this year in Chablis and few years ago in Piedmont
  • Over the top temperatures (2015 California)
  • And even a simple rainy finish prior to harvest can create watery juice…

All situations create unique growing adventures. Variable weather conditions have to be accounted for through vineyard management- early harvest, tarping and heating the vines, or adjusting pruning and maintenance.  And all play a factor in how winemakers maintain their end product- that potentially delicious bottle of wine.  The winemakers with the ability and skill to manipulate from vintification to vinification are classically the wines that people seek when the vintage reports are claiming poor years.

Want to learn more about each years’ vintages per region?  Check out Jancis Robinson>

So as much as we seek consistency, wines are variable.  The same applies when it comes to aging wines.  It is a gamble!  A potentially delicious and fascinating gamble, but a gamble nonetheless. There is the dynamic of vintage year and the above mentioned impacts, but as the wine ages the variables increase! Proper storage is vital. That is, out of direct light, with little vibration, with no contact with chemicals and odors, minimal fluctuations in temperature as well as humidity, and of course, on its side so that the cork stays moist. When that is said and done, which wines age? Think of freshness- fresh whites with no oak as well as rosé wines should be consumed in the first few years of bottling. Wines with high residual sugar age well as do wines with supple tannins and higher acidity. The last component to look for is alcohol.  High alcohol can turn your wine to vinegar, if the wine is out of balance of other said components (sugar, tannins, acidity).  For example, port is high in alcohol +  residual sugar  + tannin, so it’s balanced and ages well.

So as you endeavor in the world of wine, aging and vintage choice, ask your local wine merchant to guide you.  That’s what we are here for!

Cheers!
Jaci, Sommelier, Wine Writer & Portalis Manager

July 19, 2016 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

Local Beers: Scuttlebutt

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Everett, Washington– (Everett, Washington) — Home brewers of the 90’s, Scuttlebutt owners are Everett classics.  A Father’s day home brewing kit turned into a retirement investment. Now they produce almost 200,000 gallons of beer a year! More>

Scuttlebutt Tripel 7 Belgium
  —  $1.59 12 fl oz — Very smooth & delicate, finishes dry with a hint of tartness.  Dark Gold, Slight Copper in color with aromas of clove and banana, white pear.  Hops: Bullion and CZ Saaz
Scuttlebutt Transistor IPA  —  $2.79 12 fl oz — Crisp and light with pleasant floral and woody hop flavors.  Support your local public broadcast radio station with this great tasting beer! All net proceeds are donated to KEXP! Gold color with hops of Columbus, Chinook, Glacier, and Nugget.

Enjoy!

June 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Anniversary Gift Pairings

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Traditional anniversary gifts typically are flowers and metal or stone objects. Below is a whimsical list of wines that represent the objects. –Jaci

5th | Spring Valley Vineyards Derby Cabernet Sauvignon  (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $61.99 | Mixed Case 20% $449.59 — Traditional Objects:  Wood and Daisy– Big, Bold and oaky! Wine: This wine could be cellared for future anniversary or consumed now.

10th | Domaine Chevalliers Chablis (Burgundy, France) — Reg $27.99  | Mixed Case $22.39 — Traditional Objects: Tin/Aluminum, Daffodil. Wine: Nothing better than a flinty, minerally refreshing Chablis!

15th | Jacques Lassaigne (Champagne, France) — Reg $61.99 | Mixed Case 20% $49.59 — Traditional Object: Crystal, Rose- Crystal clear bubbles and a bouquet of roses!

20th | K Vintners Cattle King Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $75.99 | Mixed Case 20% $60.79 — Traditional Object: China, Aster. Wine: Purple and blue tinged Syrah from WA.

25th | La Colline aux Princes Sancerre (Loire Valley, France) — Reg $27.99  | Mixed Case $22.39 — Traditional Object: Silver, Iris. Wine: Reflections of silver and hints of iris!

30th | Claude Nouveau Santennay 1er Cru  (Burgundy, France) — Reg $44.99 | Mixed Case 20% $35.99 — Traditional Object: Pearl, Lily. Wine: Creamy rich texture like a pearly and lovely like lilies: Burgundian Chardonnay!

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40th | Paul Reitz Volnay  (Burgundy, France) — Reg $57.99 | Mixed Case 20% $51.19 — Traditional Object:  Ruby, Gladiolus. Wine: Bright ruby colors with rich terrior.

50th | Domaine Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve (Southern Rhône, France) — Reg $65.99 | INSIDER $62.99 | Mixed Case 20% $50.39 — Traditional Object: Gold, Yellow rose, violet. Wine: Beautiful hints of violets and field roses.

60th | Bruno Paillard (Champagne, France) — Reg $59.99 | Mixed Case 20% $47.99 — Traditional Object: Diamond. Wine: Brilliant diamond sparkles!

75th | Vilmart et Cie (Champagne, France) — Reg $89.99 | Mixed Case 20% $71.99 — Traditional Object: Diamond/Gold. Wine: Flecks of gold and diamonds.

80th| Rombaurer Cabernet Sauvignon  (Napa Valley, California) — Reg $61.99 | Mixed Case 20% $49.59 — Traditional Object: Oak. Wine: the most oak of them all!

90th | W.T. Vintners Damain Syrah  (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $48.99 | Mixed Case 20% $39.19 — Traditional Object: Granite. Wine: Layers of blueberries, cherries and granite

June 29, 2016 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

Fathers Day & BBQ Pairings

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Whether you are gathering for Father’s Day or not- this is a fun list of BBQ pairings for any upcoming events as the weather is getting warmer and the dance cards are filling up! –Jaci

Brisket and Braised | Four Vines The Biker Zinfandel (Paso Robles, Califonia) — Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case 20% $20.79 — Complement that rich and tangy meat with bold dark plums and spice!

BBQ Pork/Brats/Sausages | Resérve Générac Syrah (Costière di Nîmes, France) —Reg $13.99  | Mixed Case $11.19 — Savory with fatty goodness balanced with rich fruit and acid.

Hamburgers | 1851 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case 20% $11.99 — Layers of grilled onions, garlic, rosemary and lean meat with dark cherries, soft tannins!

Veggie Burger | Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine | Loire Valley, France) — Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case 20% $11.99 — Rustic herbs and grains with tart Touraine fruits and earth.

Pulled Pork | K Vintners River Rock Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $49.99 | Mixed Case 20% $39.99 — Good and juicy with bold and bodacious WA Syrah.

BBQ Ribs | Neil Ellis Pinotage (Stellenbosch, South Africa) — Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case 20% $18.39 — Match that rich sweet and tangy sauce to the powerful cooked fruits and smokey undertones of a South African Pinotage!

Grilled Lamb | Zuazo Gaston Crianza Tempranillo  (Rioja, Spain) — Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case 20% $12.79 — Almost any grilled meat, but this meat is a classic pairing with Tempranillo.

Corn on the Cob | 1851 Cellars Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case 20% $10.39 — You have to add your own butter, as this Chardonnay is stainless steel but with a touch of malo- full bodied and rich.

Grilled Salmon | Palazzo Malgara Grillo (Sicily, Italy) — Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case 20% $11.19 — The bright sunshine rays of a refresshing Grillo matched with a fresh catch- gorgeous.

Grilled Veggies | Weingut Prechtl Altenberg Grüner Veltliner (Weinviertel, Austria) — Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case 20% $15.19 — Full and lush, vegetal in its own right, with a clean, peppery finish.

Grilled Mushrooms | Chateau du Grand Caumont Cuvée Spéciale (Corbières, France)– Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case 20% $12.79 — Inky dark plums, black cherries, hillside herbs, soft tannins.

June 27, 2016 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

Stay Local and Fresh! PNW Seafood

Food+Wine_Fish, hazelnuts, butter lettuce salad with green goddess dressing_Jun 2015_email
Growing up actively fishing, clamming, crabbing and covered in tide-flat, one becomes a bit of a seafood snob!  The Pacific Northwest is blessed with an abundance of delicious and seasonal treats.  Here we present some of our favorites with pairings.

My cousins, siblings and I would spend HOURS on the beach at Samish Island digging for clams.  Razor clams and Goeducks that is- these meaty rich shellfish are excellent for fritters, soups and stews.  Enjoy with Pinot Bianco from Castelfeder (Alto Adige, Italy).

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Chef Tracey’s Manila Clams with coconut milk, shallots

Manila Clams, originally from Japan, live in the rocky depths, sandy areas as well as squishy tide-flat areas.  I didn’t grow up with these as much.  But I did find a love for them when I was older-  toss them in white wine with linguini or with Andouille sausage, corn and potatoes!  Pair with a Rosso di Montalicino from Nottola (Tuscany, Italy).

Five am is nothing to beach kids in my day- we would suit up, grab some pitch forks and buckets and float along on inner tubes next to our uncles when the tide flat was out.  They had pots out that they would harvest later on in the evening, and this allowed Nana to start making fresh Dungenous crab cakes-  Wow.  Enjoy that with Vinchio Vaglio Serra Gavi (Piedmont, Italy).

There are several species of shrimp in the PNW- over 80!  The most common, and largest is the Spot Prawn. Steam, peel and eat.  Enjoy with Domaine Moltès Pinot Blanc (Alsace, France).

Squid–  oh yes- calamari!  My favorite style of calamari is non-breaded, sautéed with Calabrian olives, capers and tomatoes.  Serve with La Farra Extra Dry Prosecco (Veneto, Italy)!  Want the old school breaded with aoli style… very well, then 1851 Cellars Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, Washington) for you!  Cheers!

Bouillabaisse, paella, or just a steamed bowl with chili flakes and butter- Mussels are a staple in PNW cuisine. It truly depends on the preparation- if you are having stew, enjoy with Domain Perraud Macon (Burgundy, France) or Santa Lucia Losco from coastal Maremma (Tuscany, Italy).  Paella- Outon Albariño (Rias Biaxas, Spain) all the way!  Simple butter and chili- have Okocium Lager (Poland)!

Ines_Tom Stocks at Taylor Shellfish
Ines Giovanett (Castelfeder Winery) & Tom Stocks at Taylor Shellfish, 2012

I can spend a whole day pairing to Oysters as Washington State has so many to choose from!  Check out this link for all the different styles>>  And classically- the pairing should be Muscadet: Chateau de La Bigiotière or Domaine des Herbauges (Loire Valley, France).

With eight different styles of Tuna consumed, the four most common are Albacore, Yellow-fin, Blue-fin, and Big-eye.  Blue-fin, especially Atlantic Blue-Fin, is an endangered species.  The others are border line threatened.  If you are fortunate to consume some, enjoy with Santa Lucia Vermentino (Tuscany, Italy)

Sturgeon, known more for caviar than as a dish, is a meaty, oily and rich dish.  Many species are endangered due to illegal caviar trade as well as over-fishing and pollution.  You need a Burgundian white for this one: Domaine Perraud Mâcon Villages or  Chateau Eyssards Bergerac Blanc Sec (Bergerac, France)

Mildly sweet, dense white meat- Swordfish is often overlooked!  If you like the meaty texture of salmon but not the fishy character, you will enjoy swordfish.  Moderate consumption as it does carry levels of mercury, and it is on a watch.  Pair with Ozilhan Réserve Blanc (Côtes du Rhône, France)

I don’t believe you need to pair Salmon with Pinot Noir.  Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE PINOT NOIR.  But…  there are plenty of gorgeous wines to pair with especially pending what you are making with your salmon.  I’ll give you two choices…

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Of the five WILD Salmon – Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, and Sockeye – what’s the difference?

  • Sockeye is the darkest and meat-y-est.  Pair with a bold 5 Oros Vendemmia Seleccionada (Rioja, Spain) or Willamette Pinot- like Domaine Serene (Willamette Valley, Oregon).  Awesome smoked! Pair with Starke Conde Syrah (Stellenbosch, South Africa).
  • Chinook (King) is the lightest in color yet expressive in flavor and the highest in the marbled fat content.  Depending on what you prepare it with, pair with a wine that has a bit more earth and richness- Santa Lucia Morellino di Scansano or Claude Nouveau Santennay (Burgundy, France)
  • Coho and Pink are similar with a medium to light coloring, medium flavor and medium oil.  Try a rosé- Château Frégate Bandol Rosé or for your pinot noir: Paul Reitz Volnay (Burgundy, France).
  • Chum is very light in color and very lean.  Sometimes with an orange hue. Enjoy with Les Couventines Gigondas (Southern Rhône, France) or Wish Wine Co. Pinot Noir (North Coast, California)

Since we are talking about salmon, what’s the deal with Steelhead Salmon?  It is actually a sea-bearing Rainbow Trout.  You will find the same richness of salmon, yet medium flakes of orange goodness.  Pair with Scopone Brunello di Montalicino (Tuscany, Italy) or Walter Scott Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon).

Rainbow Trout spends its life in the fresh water- so rich in style yet cleaner and leaner.  Think the same for your wine pairing- Castelfeder Vernatsch (Alto Adige, Italy) or Walnut City Wine Works Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

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Chef Tracey’s Halibut Cheeks on Roman gnocchi

Halibut is a delight.  Light, lean with a sweet freshness, it is so versatile for pairing as well as preparation.  Plain with lemon- Chevaliers Chablis (Burgundy, France); Fried- Asara Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch, South Africa); Ceviche!!  Casto Pequeño Cotoval Verdejo (Castilla y Leon, Spain)

Since we are speaking white fish, next we move to Cod.  There is Atlantic and Pacific and whole races that sustain themselves on these beauties.  Simple clean and mild flavor.  Not dissimilar to halibut but a bit oily and not as sweet.  Pair with Lobo Hills Sauvigon Blanc (Yakima Valley, Washington).

Black Cod/Sablefish has a rich, buttery, satin like texture with high oil content.  It lives in deep dark waters and along the muddy areas of the ocean.  Pair with Domain Moltès Alsatian Riesling (France).

Lingcod– is not actually a cod.  Lingcod is a lean, white-fleshed fish with a mild flavor profile, medium-firm texture and large flakes.  Enjoy with a bright and refreshing Sancerre- La Colline aux Princes (Loire Valley, France)

Bass– similar to the tale of Steelhead and Rainbow trout, several bass species are fresh water to seawater bound.  Large mouth bass are the most common in our area- expect a rich, oily fish with full flavor!  Go local- have a Washington Syrah: Beresan Cellars (Columbia Valley)

Petrale Sole and Dover Sole are actually Flounders and both have a mild, delicately nutty, sweet flavor with small, firm flakes. Definitely Palazzo Malgara Grillo (Sicily, Italy)

Entree_PACIFIC ROCKFISH with yellow tomato pureé, avacodo, basil oil & smoked paprika oil_Aug 2014_v2_square
Chef Tracey’s Pacific Rockfish with yellow tomato pureé, avacodo, basil oil & smoked paprika oil

Rockfish, aka Pacific Snapper, is lean, with a sweetness and nutty undertone.  Firm and flaky.  A great fish for mixing into seafood stews or baked in parchment with clams and herbs!  Pair this with a Bordeaux Blanc- Château Martinot (France).

Please keep in mind that we are stewards to our environment.  Many species have been over harvested and not properly managed, so please make sure to check sites like this >>  as well as health sites for toxin levels (especially for small children, pregnant women, and those with illnesses) >>

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/smart-seafood-buying-guide
http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Food/Fish/HealthyFishGuide
http://www.seafoodhealthfacts.org/

Seafood Availability–
http://www.seasonalcornucopia.com/sc/searchResults.asp

Fresh Fish Availability Infographic

Cheers & hope you enjoy some of these pairing suggestions!
Jaci Kajfas
Sommelier, Portalis Wine Shop Manager & foodie extraordinaire!

June 3, 2016 at 10:41 pm Leave a comment

Varietal Focus: Grüner Veltliner

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Where: Austria, Burgenland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, New Zealand

Notes: Aromatic white flowers, lentils, fresh watercress and celery salt.  White peach, poached pear, lime blossoms, fresh cracked wheat and caraway

Pairings: Spicy dishes, game, artichokes, asparagus

We recommend: Weingut Prechtl

May 19, 2016 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

A Touch Outré – Summer Whites

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Time to take a path you haven’t taken- travel to unfamiliar territory and taste some refreshing whites that are not common to the marketplace!  We all have our cherished go-to whites, rosés and cocktails for warmer weather, yet sometimes we crave something a bit more eccentric.  Let’s get out of the rut-  Summer Outré Whites!

Albariño | Alvarinho— Aromatic citrus, juicy fruit style with honeysuckle, peach blossom, chamomile.  Canned peaches and ripe nectarines with subtle salinity and mineral undertones.
Bodegas As Laxas Outon (Rias Biaxas, Spain) Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99  | Mixed Case $14.39

Arneis–  Seafood wine! White flowers and chamomile with pears, apricots and hints of honey.
Pelassa (Piedmont, Italy)  Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Vinchio Vaglio Serra (Piedmont, Italy)  Reg $21.99  | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

Chenin Blanc–  Flavor characteristics range from cool climate citrus and white floral notes to warm climate tropical papaya and melon.  A white varietal with a rich body, almost oil in warm climates and low acidity.
Asara (Stellenbosch, South Africa) Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Quail’s Gate (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia) Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Cortese– Bone-dry & crisp with mineral and tart lemon- citrus-y notes.
Vinchio Vaglio Serra (Gavi | Piedmont, Italy) Reg $24.99 |INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19

Falanghina– Citrus-blossom, bitter orange aromas with classic apple and pear richness and spicy, mineral finish.
Casa Setaro (Campania, Italy) Reg $19.99  | INSIDER $17.99  | Mixed Case $16.66

Grenache Blanc– Stone fruits- warm green and gold apples, with citrus blossom and peel, mild minerality, medium body and medium acidity.  Typically blended with other varietals in Southern France.
Domaine de Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Southern Rhône, France) Reg. $45.99 | INSIDER $43.99 | Mixed Case $35.19
Ozilhan Réservé Côtes du Rhône (Southern Rhône, France) Reg $13.99  | INSIDER $12.99| Mixed Case$10.39

Grillo– Fresh, lemon, quince, cashews, almond, subtle apple peel.  Slightly glycerol with an exotic undertone
Palazzo Malgara (Sicily, Italy) Reg. $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99  | Mixed Case $9.99

Grüner Veltliner– Aromatic white flowers, lentils, fresh watercress and celery salt.  White peach, poached pear, lime blossoms, fresh cracked wheat and caraway
Weingut Prechtl (Weinveitel, Austria) Reg $19.99  | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19

Inzolia– Almond nuttiness cut by refreshing lime citrus, undertones of pineapple and melon green melon.  Soft aromas of fresh cut herbs- thyme, marjoram and oregano
Palazzo Malgara (Sicily, Italy) Reg $15.99  | INSIDER $14.99  | Mixed Case $11.99

Melon de Bourgogne | Muscadet–  Aromas of faint white flowers, sublte notes of herbs such as dandelion greens, nettles, savory herbs, peppery greens, turnip/root vegetable.  When vinified Sur Lie, notes of leesy, yeast, sourdough, sour beer, slight cream.  Classically minerality with brine.
Domaine de Herbagues  (Loire Valley, France)  Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Château de la Bigotière (Loire Valley, France) Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

Pinot Blanc– A mutation of Pinot Noir, this varietal is softer in acidity than Pinot Gris, yet tree fruits, soft white blossoms and simple citrus notes are common.  Green vegetal notes of peppers and chives can be found in warmer climates.
Castelfeder (Alto Adige, Italy) Reg $18.99 | INSIDER $17.99  | Mixed Case $15.19
Domaine Moltès (Alsace, France) Reg $19.99  | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59

Sauvignon Gris— Purportedly a mutation of Sauvignon Blanc and also known as Fié Gris, only 2% of the white varietals in Bordeaux are Sauvignon Gris.  Close to extinction, the varietal is briny, crisp, dry and high in citrus fruits.
Château Lafargue (Pessac-Léognan |Bordeaux, France) Reg. $38.99 | INSIDER $37.66 | Mixed Case $31.19 — Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris

Sémillon– Flavor characteristics range from cool climate citrus and white floral notes to warm climate tropical papaya and melon.  A white varietal with a rich body, almost oil in warm climates and low acidity.
Château Martinot (Entre-Deux-Mers | Bordeaux, France) Reg $15.99  | INSIDER $14.99  | Mixed Case $12.79 – Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
Chateau Eyssards (Bergerac, France) Reg $19.99  | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 –Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle

Verdejo– Floral aromas with flavors of honey, apple, and citrus. Medium body with mild acidity.
Casto Pequeño (Castilla y Leon, Spain) Reg $11.99 | Mixed Case $9.99

Vermentino–  Crisp- like a Sauvignon Blanc with subtle citrus pith yet simple nut oil  notes.
Santa Lucia (Marema, Tuscany, Italy) Reg $17.99  | INSIDER $16.99  | Mixed Case $13.59

Vinho Verde–    Very light in color and alcohol, it is always citrus driven with refreshing effervescence.
Vinha Margaridas (Minho, Portugal) Reg $11.99  | Mixed Case $9.99

Cheers!  Jaci

 

May 18, 2016 at 11:13 pm Leave a comment

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