From Valrhona’s Gran Cru range, Araguani is a blend of Venezuelan cacaos designed to express Venezuela as an origin, rather than the terroir of a particular farm. Similar to Amedei’s Cru Venezuela this bar is an expression of a single origin and so exhibits flavours that are expressive of the general attitude of Venezuelan cacao. This chocolate is available from Valrhona’s couverture range for use in gastronomy, but that doesn’t mean that this cacao isn’t a serious contender as a chocolate bar in its own right.
I’ve begun to appreciate that anything generally Venezuelan tends to express intense chocolate/cocoa notes, with some nutty flavours and a sweetness based around caramel. This is the Venezuelan archetype, especially for criollo varieties, in reality though each of the individual plantations and growing areas tend to exhibit additional qualities or attributes that wander from the traditional archetype and coupled with small batch bean to bar chocolate processing we end up with some very individualised Venezuelan chocolate. What Amedei’s Cru Venezuela and Valrhona’s Araguani offer us, that the others do not, is a simplified approach paired with quality processing, as there is nothing simple about developing and processing good cacao beans. Simple does not always mean without quality and while simple assumes that the bar is paired back to the basics, getting these basics right is still a test of high skill. My expectations therefore, for this bar are somewhat simple in terms of the expression, but they are high in terms of my expectations of quality and delivery of this simplified expression. In that manner this bar does not disappoint and in fairness to the blend of Venezuelan cacaos it offers hints of something more than just the archetype, on top of rich cocoa, chestnut and demerara sugar, there are fudge like qualities and hints of coffee and cinnamon. In line with my expectations this bar provided simple quality, the processing displays itself well in the smooth rich mouthfeel and the consistency of its attributes, this is a bar for people who like refined good things and don’t like them to be messed with.
Ingredients: Cocoa beans from Venezuela, brown sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin, vanilla
Colour: Lightish brown very light purpling
Texture: Smooth flaked granite
Mould: Valrhona crazy paving segments
Snap: Light thud, clean break
Temp/Shine: Firm matte sheen, consistent
Notes: Chocolatey, fudge, liquorice, fennel seed, bitter orange
Quality: Refined, somewhat metallic, rich
Length: Firm medium/long
Quality: Rich, rounded
Notes: Warm milk
Notes: Chestnut syrup, demerara sugar, vanilla
Quality: Rich, dark
Notes: Intensely chocolatey, fudge, chestnut, coffee with milk, vanilla, cassia cinnamon
Quality: Refined, simply complex
Flavours develop and last in the round, just long enough to be satisfying
Notes: Coffee, caramelised sugar, chocolatey
Quality: Big finish before fading slowly, pleasant
Flavours complement each other and while the sweetness dominates it encourages other aspects of the bar, solid light structure allows the bar to develop
Bar is well developed and has an average amount of complexity, depth and dimension. Bar expresses quality rather than individuality or distinctiveness
Valrhona’s Tasting Notes: In Venezuela, the birthplace of cocoa, Valrhona has selected and combined several cocoas with rare aromatic power, born from the contrasting lands between the carribean coast and the Andes mountain range. From its strikingly bitter essense, Araguani offers a rich and complex aromatic profile featuring warm notes (raisins, chestnuts…) and hints of liquorice.