The third of Hotel Chocolat’s Single Côtes from their Rabot Estate in St. Lucia, following on from the Marcial and Bord Du Lac, here we have the Pepiniere. Occupying a single spot on Hotel Chocolat’s 140 acre Rabot estate in the South West of St. Lucia near Soufriere, which has 16 separate cortès or areas of terroir, Pepiniere grows in one of these cortès before making its way into bar form as a single côte. All the beans currently growing on the Rabot Estate are of the trinitario variety, which are more commonly aligned with fruity flavours, although in St. Lucia the terroir tends to express a darker tone.
Having tried the other two single côtes already I’m somewhat aware of what to expect here. The core flavours are likely to be earthy with a developed sweetness that remains dark and complex. These core flavours though tend to be interspersed by something original, something either sweet, floral or from delicate fruit tones. To discover this bars individualities, there is nothing left but to try it. Opening this bar we discover something that suggests it will be a rich version of earthyness, with rich buttery nutty notes mixing in with some intense cocoa. This distinguished aromas is followed by some developed and dark sugar tones of demerara and butter toffee. The flavours aren’t much different with toffee butter cocoa and nuts, whats key here is that these flavours are done well and come across as distinguished and honest. A confectioners citrus acidity helps lift the proceeding and all in all this bar provides the most refined look at St Lucian cacao I’ve tried to date. This is a bar for those looking to try something earthy without being overwhelmed.
Ingredients: Cocoa solids (cocoa mass, cocoa butter), sugar
Colour: Medium dark earthy brown
Texture: Smooth, polished granite
Mould: Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 tablet mould
Snap: Crisp, thick
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte, consistent
Notes: Rich cocoa, white floral caramel, toasted nuts, butter, effervescence, wood
Quality: Rich, distinguished, dimensioned
Length: Medium long, soft
Texture: Melting sugar, silky, butter toffee
Notes: Thai lime, lemon curd, cultured yoghurt
Notes: Demerara sugar, cinder toffee, butter toffee
Quality: Developed, depth
Notes: Rich cocoa, toffee, butter, caramelized hazelnuts, lemon curd
Quality: Refined, developed
Flavours are light and long, rounding particularly well
Notes: lemon curd, caramel, hazelnuts, cocoa
Quality: A touch of acidity on the finish leans into darker hazelnuts and cocoa with a subtle caramel overtone, lightly lingering a short while
Bar does have a dominant sweetness, but in the mix of a deft balance, while at slightly unequal levels this bar’s attributes balance up nicely, medium light structure allows for an open bar.
Bar has a decent depth and dimension of flavour, structure stays light and bar remains balanced without anchor, its expression is the most refined of St, Lucian cacao I’ve tried yet
Tasting Notes: Rockstar with ego. A lick of roasted cocoa jumps into driving riffs of tart red fruits and lemon before stage-diving into nuts, tobacco and caramel.