Cocoa Atelier Madagascar 70% 89.5/100

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Located in the north west of Madagascar, the Sambirano Valley is responsible for producing some of the fruitiest chocolate that you’re likely to taste, especially when the cacao is of the trinitario variety, here though we have a criollo supplied by the De Loisy family of Chocolaterie de l’Opera fame, who carry an interesting chocolate history all of their own. These beans once grown, shipped and supplied make their way to Dublin, where they find themselves with Cocoa Atelier, Dublin’s infamous chocolate boutique, to be turned into single origin chocolate bars.

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Having tried a Madagascan criollo before I’m somewhat aware of what to expect. There should be the classic Madagascan fruit alongside some of the more refined characteristics of the criollo genetics and hopefully some quality processing to go with it. Now this bar isn’t perfect but it’s pretty damn good, it has a mixture of professional processing producing a smooth and glossy mouthfeel, while maintaining intense aromas and flavours. The bar reminds me a lot of a tropical fruit caramel, chocolate to start with, rich acidic sweetness in the middle, followed by chocolate to finish. Here we have a bar with developed flavour, acidity and sweetness, but without being robust, the flavours while fruity are refined and almost delicate, being expressed through a criollo bean. It seems to me the Madagascan criollos are the fruitiest of all the criollos and that criollos grown in Madagascar make for the most refined and elegant of the Madagascan grown cacaos, as such they make a great pairing to bring intense but refined flavour and here is expressed a very accessible version of that chocolate.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium/dark brown
Texture: Very smooth
Mould: Thick square block mould
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy, consistent

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Hazelnut, papaya, honey, apricot, cocoa
Quality: Fragrant, refined

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Medium
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Glossy, smooth
Quality: Full

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 5
Notes: Papaya, apricot, mango
Quality: Uplifting, rounded, developing

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Ripe tropical fruit, light honey, powdered sugar
Quality: Developed, balanced

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet
Notes: Papaya, apricot, mango, honey, redcurrant, nectarine, cocoa
Quality: Refined

Length 9/10

Medium/long flavours are carried along by the acidity and sweetness changing and developing over the course of the melt

Finish 9/10

Notes: redcurrant, nectarine, cocoa, cream
Quality: sharper acidity just before the finish, clears, leaving cocoa and cream to linger a while

Balance 9.5/10

Sweetness smooths out any unbalance, bringing the bar together well, acidity leaps in and out with smooth transition, medium structure allows developing room and sufficient anchor

Overall 9/10

Bar has good depth and dimension, flavours could be described as full, bar is not necessarily complex, more changeable, developing flavours over the course of the melt. Structure is uniform and acidic expression is true of Madagascan origin, as refined flavours are true of criollo genetics.


Cocoa Atelier’s Tasting Notes: Madagascar has preserved traditional cocoa plantations and small scale cultivation in the North West of the island. The prized criollo cocoa bean “Sambirano No. 1” is renowned for its elegant aromas. Enjoy the well balanced notes of citrus fruits, honey and vanilla of this single origin chocolate.

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