Ara Chocolat Trinitario Guasare 72% 89/100

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From the far north west of Venezuela, west of Lake Maracaibo is the growing region of Guasare a growing region responsible for the ‘father of all criollos’, although they also grow trinitario there now as well. 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.

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My experience with Guasare cacao is limited to the variety grown by Domori and that’s a criollo crop that has been transplanted to Hacienda San Jose, this cacao, however is a trinitario variety grown in the Guasare region. Which leaves me not knowing exactly what to expect, I’m left considering that it might be closer to Carenero, or potentially exhibit some of the red fruit that other cacaos from around that region exhibit, it’s hard to say, but I would expect at least some refined cocoa flavours. Opening the bar and taking in the aroma, I’m given a bit of both of my expectations, there’s the caramel and nuts exhibited in the criollo guasare I’ve tried and also some balsamic, cherries and raspberries, which are indicative of fruitier cacaos of that growing region. To taste this bar has flavour, sweetness and acidity in bucket loads, too much some might argue, even the cream, nuts and caramels aren’t enough to smooth out the experience. There’s some attributes of north coastal Venezuelan cacao coming through here, but they’re overshadowed by the overwhelming fruit, acidity and sweetness of the flavour, something I would attribute to the trinitario cacao. Don’t get me wrong though this bar is fun, exciting and well developed, but its fruity and acidic to the point of questions over fermentation and there’s some nice background smoke notes that taste great, but add further questions to the drying process. This is great cacao, with great flavour and the processing has produced well tempered chocolate with a great mouthfeel, but I can’t help feeling like this bar could do with some additional refining with some more attention paid to balance and roundedness. This is a fairly new cacao to be produced from an overlooked region, so time might be required for development, but thankfully there’s a tonne of potential here and at least no one can accuse this bar of being lacking in flavour.

Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, cacao butter

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium/light milky brown
Texture: Very smooth
Mould: Ara small 12 square blocks
Snap: Crisp, thick
Temp/Shine: Matte sheen, consistent

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Caramel, almonds, hazelnuts, balsamic, cherries, raspberries
Quality: Acidic, bold, distinctive

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Smooth caramel, syrup, cream
Quality: Like smooth ice cream with syrupy sauce

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Cherry, raspberry, raspberry vinegar
Quality: Sharp, honest, bold

Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Notes: Raspberry syrup, ripe berries, hint of caramel
Quality: Developed, bold

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Sweet, Sour
Notes: Cherry, raspberry, raspberry vinegar, roasted nuts, cream, sherbet, smoke
Quality: Distinctive

Length 9/10

Flavours are big bold and long, not overly rounded though, more powering straight through

Finish 9/10

Notes: cherries, raspberries, raspberry vinegar
Quality: Big fruit and acidity reaches until a fairly clean, but juicy finish

Balance 8/10

Bar is too bold in flavour and acidity is too wild for this bar to stay in balance, medium/light structure isn’t robust enough to provide anchor for flavour

Overall 8.5/10

Bar has depth and some degree of dimension, bar is clearly well developed with big flavour, but production and structure aren’t centred around balancing or refining this flavour


Tasting Notes:

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