Las Trincheras is a cacao growing town, down the inland road from Puerto Cabello situated in the high altitude rainforest hills of the northern Venezuelan coast. The cacao grown here is split up amongst a trinity of Trincheras producers, Willies Cacao, Rozsavoglyi Csokolade and the bar we have here from Ara Chocolat. Hailing originally from Venezuela themselves, Ara Chocolat now take up residence in Paris, where husband and wife team Andres and Sabrina help to turn cacao beans into their sets of mini chocolate bars. Bringing with them a wealth of fine dining experience and a stint with Chocolates Franceschi in Venezuela they’re well prepared to make small batch bean to bar chocolate, while putting their own individual stamp on it. Ara’s philosophy revolves around Andres and Sabrina’s commitment to the environment and their desire to use cacao that is grown in harmony with the local ecosystem, furthermore they’re vegan, encouraging a simple approach to cacao production in which only cacao products and cane sugar are used.
My expectations for this bar are based around the flavour I’ve experienced from Willie’s version of this bar, nutty caramels and citrus with possible green notes. As my only experience with Las Trincheras I have no other reference for these beans, I am however aware that while both producers use the same ingredients, their individual styles of chocolate making do differ significantly. Willie tends to produce these big smooth almost creamy bars that release these bright and wild acidities, whereas Ara seem, at least so far, to produce a more delicate bar, one that offers complicated flavours with a bit more roast, ones that are a bit more, dare I say, unusual. My expectations turned out to be not too far from the mark, the flavours between the two bars made from Trincheras were similar, but distinctly separate. More distinctly individual was the feel of the bar and the delivery of the flavours, this was an ever changing complicated affair of flavours with a refined and elegant balance that kept this bar together at all times.
Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, cacao butter
Colour: Medium light brown
Mould: Ara small 12 square blocks
Temp/Shine: Glossy consistent temper
Notes: Citrus, hazelnut, leather
Quality: Pleasant, but distant
Texture: Smooth, little pasty, buttery
Quality: Rich and buttery
Notes: Grapefruit, lime
Quality: While low intensity, cuts through the others to make itself heard
Quality: Well developed
Notes: Caramel, grapefruit, almond, hazelnut, basil, shortbread
Quality: Flavours fluctuate, citrus changes piece to piece, enjoyable
Flavours have a medium to long length, but do well in the round
Notes: Grapefruit, caramel
Quality: Lightly drying, sensation lingers, flavours dissipate
Flavours are complementary and all aspects balance out well, structure is light allowing flavours to play around
This bar is complicated rather than complex, flavours feel adaptable between the citruses and only the caramel sweetness remains consistent, somehow always in balance. Flavour has finesse but not great depth, this is light rather than powerful, bar feels developed but not necessarily brought to its full conclusion.
Ara’s Tasting Notes: