Translated roughly as south of the lake, these beans are grown just south of lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, not too far from where the famed porcelana grows. One of the earthier of Venezuelan cacaos, Sur Del Lago often gets used in higher percentage bars offering a more intense cocoa experience. Once shipped via the Franceschi Brothers they arrive in Budapest, Hungary at Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé’s workshop where husband and wife team Zsolt Szabad and Katalin Csiszar help to turn them into one of their intricate tile moulded chocolate bars.
I’ve tried a few bars made from Sur Del Lago cacao now and they’ve all been pretty dark and all been pretty intense. The cacao lends itself well to higher percentages, but its nowhere near the light and refined nature of Porcelana one of its neighbours. If I’m entirely honest its not one of my prefered choices when it comes to Venezuelan cacao, finding it neither fruity not refined. Still Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé’s bars that I’ve tried so far have all been of the highest production value and so I was intrigued to see how that would play out here. Again as always Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé have produced a stunning looking bar, this time with a darkly toned aroma, which while authentic lacks certain pleasurable qualities. To taste there are flavours there other than intense dark cocoa, there’s some hints of raspberry and lemongrass to brighten and lighten the proceedings, still the bar is dark, but unfortunately its followed by quite a dry almost astringent finish. Don’t be confused this bar isn’t bad, it’s just not in the same league of quality as some of Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé’s other bars that are top notch. If you like intense dark bars then this one is going to be more in your direction, otherwise try one of the more refined and lighter Venezuelan cacaos.
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter
Colour: Medium dark brown, light purpling
Mould: Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé intricate flower mould
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss
Notes: Leather, tobacco, lemongrass, baked hazelnuts, molasses
Texture: Chocolate cake batter, smooth
Quality: Dense, heavy
Notes: Lemongrass, raspberry pips, redcurrant, lime rind
Notes: Burnt sugar, molasses, raspberry
Type: Bitter, sweet
Notes: Heavy cocoa, chocolate cake batter, raspberry, molasses, lemongrass, gingerbread, lime
Quality: Bold, deep
Long bold flavours dominate while staying rounded
Notes: Cocoa, lime, raspberry, molasses
Quality: There is some lime rind and raspeberry on the finish, followed by a little molasses, but the lingering sensation is of a dry cocoa
Both acidity and sweetness are uplifting, but fall short of balancing dominant deep dark flavours that dominate the experience, strong structure remains evident
Bar has a lot of depth and some dimension creeping in, its flavours and heavy mouthfeel are boldly dominant over the balance, structure is heavy and consistent. In terms of expression there is some refined raspberry flavours that indicate both fruity and delicate notes from trinitario and criollo, but bar is dominated by terroir in terms of the charcoal cocoa, deep heavy toned nature of Sur Del Lago.
Tasting Notes: Sur del Lago region is located in the tropical lowlands south and west of the Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. Trinitarian cocoa beans with high criollo content, tastes reminiscent of raspberries.