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Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99One of our best non-vintage Champagnes, this organically grown blend of half each Chardonnay and Meunier comes entirely from Bruno Michel's estate. It has been aged for six years on the lees and shows wonderful natural toasty quality as well as incredible vibrance! This was the big hit of our most recent staff Champagne tasting and we think you will love it too.

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Entries in Chardonnay (57)

Friday
May102013

Champagne Friday: Tasting the Varietals

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Friday: Tasting the Varietals

One of the best and easiest ways to get more enjoyment out of Champagne is by getting an understanding of the grape varieties used in the region. A simple tasting of three wines (or four if you want to be a complete imbiber!) over dinner is all that is needed to get a pretty firm handle on these grape varieties. I promise this won't just be educational- it will also be fun!

The most planted grape in all of Champagne is Meunier, a variety that used to be thought of as a relative of Pinot Noir but is now recognized as completely indigenous to Champagne. The second most planted variety in the region is Pinot Noir and like the third- Chardonnay- is an import from Burgundy just a few hundred kilometers away. These three grapes make up more than 99.9% of the vineyard in Champagne, but they are not the only varieties in the region. Before phyloxera struck the region in the late 1800’s, Gamay, Pinot Blanc and local grapes Arbanne and Petite Meslier were widely planted. Now, these grapes are making a comeback among some of the best and most adventurous growers. Arbanne and Meslier are especially prized for being late ripening and high acid- two great properties in a warming environment.

To start off the tasting, I would recommend a blanc de blancs to cover Chardonnay. These bracing wines are perfect for the aperitif, and if you plan on doing the tasting over a dinner make a fine wine for the welcome of guests. You can easily transition from the aperitif into oysters, scallops or crab salad with this wine, since its lively acid and chalky character flatter shellfish like nothing else. I would recommend using the Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($34.99) for this as it is round enough to be friendly on its own, but packs enough cut to pair with the richest of crustaceans.

In this bottle you will find classic Champagne Chardonnay aromas and flavors like white flowers and strong minerality. You can learn more about Launois here.

I would follow up with Meunier, which is often dismissed as simple and fruity by the big houses, but is capable of gorgeous purity and deep savor when handled by a contentious grower and made by a talented wine maker. If you are pairing the wines with food, nothing brings out the best in Meunier like pate or mushrooms. Cinnamon and I have treated ourselves many times to old vintages from the master Rene Collard paired with foie gras, but the wines shine just as brightly with a mushroom tart. I would recommend the Michel Dervin Brut Champagne ($32.99) for the representative of this varietal- the blend is 80% Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir, but the Meunier takes command.

By tasting this you will get plenty of the apple and pear fruit that this variety is known for, as well as a hint of the chantrele and truffle components that makes Krug prize this grape so much.

After the Meunier move on to Pinot Noir and taste the Elisabeth Goutorbe "Cuvée Eclatante" Brut Champagne ($34.99). While this wine is only 70% Pinot, the power of this variety, in this case primarily from the top village of Ay, is firmly in control of this Champagne. Pinot dominated Champagne loves a piece of salmon, and if it is warm enough my favorite preparation in on a cedar plank on the grill. Pinot Noir is hard to ripen in Champagne, and the last variety to be harvested, and even though the wines have no color, they still have the cherry aroma and flavor that one expects in the reds.

This is the most structured variety in Champagne, and you will feel the difference in concentration and power in the Goutorbe.

If you want to go for a bonus round, we have a very special bottle for you that is composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc. If you taste it, you will be among very few in the world to ever have had these ancient varieties. The Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99) is worth every penny, and is high toned, incisive, exotic and long finishing. This would be excellent to open alongside the Goutorbe with the main course! You can learn more about this wine from the winemaker here.

Feel free to reach out to me at garywestby@klwines.com if you would like to talk about Champagne tastings! A toast to you!

 

Best,

Gary

Tuesday
May072013

Keith's Burgundy Hotline: Paul Pernot Wines are HERE

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Hello Burgundy Lovers,

I wanted to let you know our ship has come in, and the 2011 Paul Pernot wines were on board.  As always, supplies are limited, particularly of the top wines.

These wines are in-stock, and are available on the web at http://www.klwines.com or by calling 800-247-5987.

 

The Wines:

 

2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Bourgogne Chardonnay $19.99

 

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Bourgogne Chardonnay is bright, floral and nicely focused. This is a tasty, uncomplicated Bourgogne that captures the personality of the year." (8/2012)   


2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet $44.99

88-90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Pale yellow-green. Lively aromas of stone and citrus fruits, spearmint and menthol. Then fat, sweet and lush in the mouth, with flavors of lemon and fresh mint showing the bright side of the vintage. Very good balance and length here, and very Puligny." (9/2012)  88 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pernot’s 2011 Puligny-Montrachet is nicely focused. Medium in body, the Puligny offers up pretty white stone fruits and flowers, showing the brighter side of the vintage. This is another tasty, straightforward offering with good length, but limited elegance. The Puligny is made from a blend of p  ... Read More » 

 


2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Meursault Blagny 1er Cru "La Piece Sous le Bois" : $59.95 Limit of 6 per customer

88-90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright yellow-green. Aromas of lemon, lime, crushed stone, nutmeg and wild herbs. In a distinctly juicy, cooler, Puligny style, with good cut but a slight bitter edge to the flavors of menthol, minerals and spices. Finishes with a peppery, crushed stone firmness. A very rocky wine, from a site with very thin soil" (9/2012)  89 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Meursault Blagny La Piece Sous Le Bois shows good depth and body in a soft, caressing expression of Meursault. White flowers, flint and pears are layered into the vibrant finish. Anticipated maturity" (8/2012)   


2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Folatières"  $79.99 Limit of 6 per customer

90-92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright greenish yellow. Aromas of buttery peach, citrus fruit, white flowers and noble herbs. Dense, sweet and lively, offering an enticing sugar/acid balance and lovely perfumed lift. Not as exuberant as usual for this cuvee at this stage but its harmonious acidity and underlying minerality lend grip to the finish and extend the wine's brisk flavors." (9/2012)  91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres boasts gorgeous balance between the richness of the fruit and mineral notes. Crystalline notes appear on the mid-palate, adding brightness and focus. The fi  ... Read More » 


2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Pucelles" : $99.95 Limit of 6 per customer

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pernot’s 2011 Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles is another of the more up-front wines in this lineup. It possesses excellent depth and plenty of richness, with layers of fruit that blossom through to the soft, layered finish. In 2011, the Pucelles is all about fruit, and there is no shortage of that here. This is a very representative wine for the year." (8/2012)  90-92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright green-tinged yellow. Musky, ripe aromas of snap pea, smoked meat and clove, complicated by a leesy nuance. Rich, ripe and opulent for the vintage, with silky stone fruit flavors framed on t  ... Read More » 


2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru  $159.95 Limit of 3 per customer

90-93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Pale yellow. Sweet peach, lemon, yellow flowers, mint and noble herbs on the nose, complicated by notes of hazelnut and basil. Dense and ripe but less pliant than the Pucelles, displaying good cut to the lemon, lime and floral flavors. Finishes firmer and longer than the Pucelles but less opulent today" (9/2012)  90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "One of the more extroverted wines in the lineup, the 2011 Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet boasts considerable depth and harmony. Citrus, white flowers, floral-infused honey and chamomile take shape in the glass. This is a decidedly understated, fem  ... Read More » 


2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru  $189.95 Limit of 3 per customer

92-94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright yellow with green highlights. Deep aromas of fresh apricot, crushed stone and clove. Dense, deeply pitched and soil-driven, with a distinctly saline aspect to the flavors of spices, menthol and flowers. Impressively concentrated for the vintage but quite closed today. The saline quality carries through onto the serious, slowly mounting finish. Pernot notes that his Batard vines are on the Chassagne side of the vineyard, and thus this wine is very different in style from his Bienvenue, which is on the Puligny side." (9/2012)  91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Batard-Mont  ... Read More » 


A Santé,

-Keith

 

Mr. Keith WOLLENBERG

Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

http://www.klwines.com

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line

Keithw@klwines.com

 

Tuesday
May072013

{Terra Ignota} New Wines Direct from Pyramid Valley Vineyards, NZ

While we have been working with the wonderful wines of Pyramid Valley Vineyards for quite some time now, a new direct purchase deal means we can now offer these magnificent staff favorites for an even better price! Pyramid Valley is the labor of love for Mike and Claudia Weersing. Orignally from the Bay Area and with family still in Pescadero, Mike and Claudia have been working hard, living and producing wines in New Zealand since 1996. Mike originally made wine at the esteemed Neudorf Estate in Nelson before he and Claudia bought the property in North Canterbury. The Pyramid Valley Vineyard wines are defined by Organic and Biodynamic viticulture, a very non-invasive winemaking style and have an intense focus on integrity, sense of place and reflection of vintage.

The very steep Angel Flower Block with Lion's Tooth Block in the background

The wines are divided into a “Growers Collection” and “Home Vineyard” single block ranges. The Growers Collection is made up of single vineyard bottlings sourced from growers with whom Mike and Claudia work very closely. The selected vineyards are farmed Biodynamically and to their own very strict quality standards. Many of the wines represent very unique and quirky varietals not commonly seen in New Zealand such as Savagnin Rose, Semillon, Pinot Blanc and Cabernet Franc. They also make great Riesling and obviously a selection of Pinot Noirs from different regions and sub-regions of NZ.

The "Home Block" wines are from Mike and Claudia's tiny estate in North Canterbury. Vines are planted in very high density with minute spacing to make sure yields are concentrated. Most blocks are on steep slopes making the farming, which is meticulous and all by hand, a very laborious job. The vineyards have been organic and biodynamic since inception. Each individual block is named after the wildflowers that thrive there. These single block wines are microcosms of each section of this unique estate. The wines show remarkable nuances of flavor and texture due to slight differences in orientation, soil and aspect.

Minimal intervention wine making is often referred to as a "hands-off" style, however I might argue that Pyramid Valley employ an intensely "hands-on" style of production. The difference being that these are very “green thumbed” hands. Everything is done by hand, (and foot, the grapes are foot trodden for gentle extraction) down to hand de-stemming each bunch of Pinot Noir. The wines are truly lovingly crafted pieces of natural artistry.

Pyramid Valley Team Hand De-stemming Home Block Pinot Noir

Below are detailed notes notes on the various wines we have from Pyramid Valley. I really encourge you to check out these wines. They are something very special and represent the absolute pinnacle of artisinal winemaking.

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Angel Flower" Pinot Noir, North Canterbury, New Zealand $49.99

An enchanting wine, very floral nose of dried rose petals and lavender. Bright high-toned red fruits on the nose lead to slightly richer sappier dark red fruits on the palate. This wine has compelling energy and vibrancy. Crisp acidity and grainy tannins mean this wine will hold in the cellar. This is definitely more a Burgundy drinker’s wine than a modern fruit forward style. The wine has great texture and an authentic sense of place. This is a very interesting bottle that deserves some reflection and consideration if it is to be fully appreciated.

James Suckling 95 points and featured in his Top Ten Wines of the World for 2012. “Aromas of roses and sweet plums with strawberry. Full body, with super fine tannins and beautiful fruit. Silky and fine with such beauty. This is insane with a rust and iron character. Fascinating. Drink or hold.

Winery Notes: "1.1 tonnes per acre from this north-facing parcel; ten year old vines. Denser, shallower soils, still clay-limestone: 20% clay, 3-7% active lime. Biodynamic from before planting. Late April pick, entirely hand destemmed, 25% foot crushed. Ambient soak of 5-7 days, warm vineyard yeast fermentation (33C), 27-28 day cuvaison. Natural, spring malolactic. Ten months on original lees, in French barriques, 15% new, then held a further six months in tank. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, in September 2011. Alcohol 13.7%. Production: 180 cases.  Good deep ruby. Flowers, red fruits, and bags of spice on the forward bouquet. Lush but crisp, with very fresh fruit, and all that spice. Very long and elegant palate.

Soil Profile of Earth Smoke Block

 

 

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Earth Smoke" Pinot Noir, North CanterburyNew Zealand $49.99

The Earth Smoke is very slightly my preferred bottling from the Home Vineyard offerings. I love the depth and intrigue this wine brings to the table. The fruit, especially aromatically, is more reserved than the Angel Flower block; however the wine has awesome layers of detail and interest. Dense earthy tones and the rich limestone soil show through in this wine. The whole thing is more guarded and veiled yet within that subtlety there is ample finesse and character. A really soulful bottling that will truly engage Burgundy drinkers and shows the complexity and subtly that New Zealand Pinot can have.

James Suckling 94 points: “A fabulous nose of dried strawberries, plums and hints of smoke and bacon. Full body, with beautiful tannins and acidity. Super intense and beautiful. Long and gorgeous. No new oak. Better in 2016.”

Winery Notes: "1.4 tonnes per acre from our east-facing home block; ten year old vines. Deep, well structured, clay-limestone soils: 30% clay, 12-15% active lime. Also biodynamic from inception. Late April pick, hand destemmed, 25% foot crushed. Ambient soak of 5-7 days, warm vineyard yeast fermentation (33C), 27-28 day cuvaison. Natural, spring malolactic. Ten months on original lees, in French barriques, 15% new, then held a further six months in tank.  Bottled unfined and unfiltered, in September 2011. Alcohol 13.2%. Production: 250 cases.  Similar robe to the Angel Flower, perhaps a bit deeper. Very engaging and complex nose of soil, wild fruits, and spiced orange peel. Real power and lovely texture in the mouth, and again wilder and more earthy than the Angel Flower.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Calvert" Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand $34.99

The Calvert vineyard is shared between three of NZ’s leading Pinot Noir producers: Pyramid Valley, Craggy Range and Felton Rd. The vineyard is farmed Biodynamically (by Felton Rd) and each partner gets an equal split of the fruit to craft the way they wish. Pyramid Valley’s philosophy is based around as little intervention as possible to let the site speak for itself. This wine shows classic Central Otago power and muscle without compromising balance and elegance of texture. I found the wine to be quite black fruited but with raspberry high-toned notes peaking through. The wine has compact layers of flavor that I suspect come from its schist soil origins. It really unfolds in the glass showing spice and sweet crushed herbs with more air. The wine finishes with remarkably fresh acidity despite the dark fruit succulence and ripe tannin structure. This is great wine especially for those seeking to try some New Zealand Pinot whilst transitioning from more dense California styles.

Stephen Tanzer 92 points: “Good medium-deep red.  Knockout nose combines raspberry, smoke, spices and loamy soil tones.  Fat, sweet, sexy and rich, but with ripe, harmonious acidity giving shape to the red berry and underbrush flavors.  Velvety in the middle and nicely sappy on the long, sweet finish, which features thoroughly ripe, smooth tannins.  A liquid confection.”

Winery Notes: "A sufficient, but small-berried harvest from this beautiful Bannockburn site. Managed biodynamically by the consistently brilliant team at Felton Road. Soils of schist and quartz sand. Fruit is all hand picked, 75% destemmed, thus 25% whole cluster, transferred by gravity to tank. Ambient soak of 3-5 days, warm indigenous yeast fermentation, 27-28 day cuvaison. Natural, spring malolactic. Fourteen months on original lees in French barriques (25% new); bottled unfined and unfiltered on the winter Solstice, June 2010. Alcohol 14.3%, pH 3.71. Production: 450 cases.  Lifted and luscious at the same time, with a broad spectrum of fruit and plant aromatics: from pomegranate through redcurrant jelly and fresh plum to raspberry; beyond juniper berry to crushed thyme to bramble to bark. Also a teriyaki/root beer note like an umami version of the spice we so often see from this site. Broad and enveloping, yet with ripe and bracing and infiltrating tannin. Finishes with a long and lovely interplay between structure and succulence."

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Cowley Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand $29.99

This Pyramid Valley Growers Collection bottling comes from one of my favorite sites within the region of Marlborough. The Cowley vineyard is nestled into the hills rising away to the south of the Wairau plains that make up most of Marlborough’s wine country. Here on the north facing slopes the soils turn from alluvial gravel to mixes of clay and decomposed bed rock, glacial deposits and volcanic uplift. The site produces complex pinot of real depth and character. The 2009 bottling has quite a rich dark fruit edge that illustrates the ripeness of the vintage. A seductive silky wine showing crushed plums, and red berries mingling with some freshly ground spices. Very drinkable and crowd pleasing in style, whilst retaining that authentic vibrancy that Pyramid Valley wines have in abundance.

Stephen Tanzer 91 points: “Slightly hazy medium red. Musky aromas of raspberry, coffee and smoke. Lush, silky and sweet, with velvety plum and earth flavors spreading out to saturate the palate. Seamless pinot with excellent depth and sweet tannins.”

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Lion's Tooth" Chardonnay, North Canterbury, New Zealand $39.99

Fantastic Chardonnay. This wine has a real drive and energy. It shows rich orchard fruits, poached pears and some depth given from a lovely grain or barley character which I can only assume is from a healthy dose of sur lie ageing. This is quite a rich wine but a bright acidity keeps all that texture and power taught, linear and focused. Treat this wine like a good white Burgundy and it will reward you in kind. This really shows the potential of New Zealand to produce top class Chardonnay.

Winery Notes: "20hl/ha from this steeply inclined, east facing home block. Gorgeous soils, with nut and crumb structure and great mineral fertility: 30% clay, 15-20% active lime. Again, biodynamic from inception. Early May pick, whole bunch pressed; no settling, no SO2. Vineyard yeast ferment of 15 months, in used French oak, primarily 450-500L puncheons. Natural, spring malolactic. Eleven months on lees in barrel, then transferred to a variable capacity tank for a further 9 months; bottled unfined and unfiltered in December 2011. Alcohol 14.5%. Production: 100 cases. More golden yet, still bright and brilliant. More complex, fermentative aromas: less fruit and leaf and flower than the Field of Fire, rather popcorn, brioche, grilled nuts.”

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Howell Family" Cabernet Franc, Hawke’s Bay New Zealand $28.99

Phenomenal Cab Franc. This wine draws the perfect line between the more lean and herbal Cab Francs of the Loire and the bigger and more dense California versions that are out there. It has plenty of green tobacco and freshly crushed herb varietal character but also rich, concentrated dark red fruit and spice. Some fine oak nuances round out the wine which has great length and balance on the palate. This wine comes from a very interesting sub-region of Hawke's Bay know as the Red Metals Triangle for its red, iron-rich gravelly soils. These complex soils produce low, concentrated yields and impart a fascinating mineral tinge to the wine produced here. There is so much complexity and intrigue here all cloaked beneath a rich and crowd pleasing style. Yum!

Robert Parker 91+ points: “Medium-deep ruby-purple in color, the 2009 Howell Family Vineyard Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc is a little closed, offering delicate to moderately pronounced notes of red currants and red cherries over nuances of black pepper, moss covered tree bark and game. Ripe and rich in the medium bodied mouth, it has medium-firm silky tannins, crisp acidity and a long savory finish. Drink it 2012 to 2017+. Mike and Claudia Weersing continue to work nature’s magic on their wines. The results are truly unique wines that can only come from these creative hands working out of this pretty patch just inland from the Waipara. Even more exciting is that the quality straight across the estate and growers labels just gets better and more consistent each year from this relatively new operation.”

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Twin Valleys" Savagnin Rose, Marlborough, New Zealand $19.99

When I learnt Pyramid Valley had a Savgagnin Rose they wanted us to taste I had absolutely no idea what to expect…Savagnin Rose? Turns out that this is a most fascinating floral, aromatic and richly textured wine. One of the most interesting wines I have tasted this year. The wine definatley shows its relation to Gewurztraminer in those 

Winery Notes: "We were thrilled when Peter and Anne Reed called us about their small parcel of this extremely rare variety. Savagnin Rose is the non-musqué progenitor of Gewurztraminer: it is less gaudily aromatic, and retains fresher acidity. We prize its delicately spicy, floral nature, as well as its bold structure and elegant strength. 4.1 tonnes/acre from this lifted Fareham Lane block, in a corner of Marlborough we believe produces exceptional aromatic wines. Whole bunch pressed, no settling, no fining agents. Indigenous fermentation of 15 months, in 500L puncheons, 5% new. Bottled on the spring equinox, September 2011. Alcohol 13.9%, pH 3.52, TA 4.3 g/l, RS 25g/l. Production 410 cases. Brilliant gold. Very delicate and subtly perfumed, with brown, yellow and ochre spice turmeric, curry, sumac, saffron and equally fine floral notes, especially rose. Still some light leesy fermentative notes, from a very long gestation in barrel. Juicy and freshly sweet, like a Golden Queen peach. Feels lush and bright simultaneously, as ripe acid and girdling phenolics lend focus and drive to the luscious finish. Really like a perfect, yellow, tree-ripened fruit a mirabelle, say, or an Anjou pear.

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Kerner Estate" Pinot Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $18.99

An excellent growing season yielded small, clean berries from Pyramid Valley's Kerner Estate Vineyard for this 2010 Pinot Blanc. The grapes were hand-harvested and whole-cluster pressed and fermented on native yeast in old French oak puncheons. From the winery: "Pale yellow gold. Leesy/biscuity fermentative notes, with a lemon custard sort of high-tone comfort; also a subtle, blossomy sweetness, like alyssum. Really quite elegant and understated: after the complex boisterousness of the 2009, this marks a return to delicacy and ethereal grace. Light and bright and lively, despite its adamant phenolic structure and intensity of flavour. Perhaps the most poised and complete wine we’ve seen from this lovely block."

James Suckling 90 points: "This Pinot Blanc shows lovely floral and melon character with full body, good acidity and a clean finish. Balanced and chalky."

Pyramid Valley Vineyards under snow

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Rose Vineyard" Riesling, Marlborough $21.99

Robert Parker 90 points: “The 2009 Rose Vineyard Marlborough Riesling gives a chalky, mineral nose with some straw and lime leaf plus a little citrus zest and freshly made bread dough. Made to a relatively dry style, it has a medium body and lively acidity cutting through the elegant fruit, finishing long and steely. Approachable now, it should drink well to 2016+”

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the wines!

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

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