Potomac Chocolate Cuyagua 70% 71/100

Tucked between Ocumare and Choroni and part of the Parque Nacional Henri Pittier, Cuyagua like Patanemo is one of the lesser known cacao producing towns on the northern coast of Venezuela. Probably less well known though, is Woodbridge in Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C, where Ben Rasmussen turns beans into bars in the ‘absurdly’ small Potomac Chocolate workshop. Potomac’s focus is on producing small batch chocolate, often using custom built equipment to do so and getting hands on with the chocolate making process. You can read about Potomac’s process on their website http://www.potomacchocolate.com/the-process/

Having not tried cacao from Cuyagua before, I’m resting on my knowledge of northern coastal Venezuelan cacao again. Leading me to presume that the bar would be nutty and intensely chocolatey, but with something individual to Cuyagua. The bar started out wonderfully, its smooth, complex, subtle and flavoursome, but at about the halfway point in the melt, all of that changed, or rather all of that became secondary to the strong drying sensation that becomes the primary experience. It’s confusing because Potomac’s intention is to bring out the honest flavours of origin and terroir, to best let the chocolate express itself and with that in mind I find myself wanting to like this bar more than I am able to, if the first half of the bar stretched from beginning to end then this bar would be great, but unfortunately this appears to be a bar of two halves. One which I’m very fond of and one which left me somewhat disappointed.

*In the interest of transparency and in the interest of being fair to Potomac Chocolate, I should note that the best before date on this bar was December 2015 and the tasting was completed in early April 2016.

Ingredients: Organic cocoa, organic cane sugar

Appearance 7.5/10

Colour: Medium brown, light purpling
Texture: Smooth, dry
Mould: Ridged fingers
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy, consistent

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Tobacco, cocoa, raisins, spice, leather
Quality: Rich

Melt/Mouthfeel 6/10

Length: Long
Evenness: a bar of two halves
Texture: Initially smooth, before dry
Quality: Smooth and even, becomes dry and astringent, like high tannin red wine

Acidity 7.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Grapefruit, lemon, tangerine
Quality: Uplifting, but overpowered, a little sour

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Honey, lemon, white sugar
Quality: Developed and round

Flavour 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 5
Type: Bitter, sweet, salty
Notes: Tobacco, leather, spice, dry grapefruit, dry white wine
Quality: Complex, developed

Length 8/10

Sweetness lasts throughout, with other flavours quieter but present

Finish 5/10

Notes: Sweet lemon, dry
Quality: Moisture sapping dryness, astringent

Balance 6/10

While the bar is balanced in the majority of its attributes, all are unbalanced by the dry mouthfeel dominating the experience, all complexity and flavour is asked to take a backseat

Overall 6/10

The bar has been well developed, but the development work has been overawed by the dryness of the chocolate, which dominates both the mouthfeel and the experience. From my basic knowledge I can only assume there was some issue in the drying process as opposed to the roasting and conching of the beans. The bar is not overly bitter, but remains unbalanced and depth, dimension, complexity and expression are lost here and terroir is obviously under represented


Potomac’s Tasting Notes: Deep cocoa notes with subtle citrus and spice.


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