Hotel Chocolat Vietnam Mekong Delta & Dong Nai 80% 88/100

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From the southern region of Vietnam around Ho Chi Minh city this chocolate is a blend of trinitario beans from both the Mekong Delta and Dong Nai. Having struggled in the past with funding and infrastructure for growing cocoa, Vietnam is now becoming a far more prolific grower of quality cacao and is responsible alongside Madagascar and Colombia for producing some of the fruitiest cacao available amongst fine quality cacao growing regions. Always one to support emerging cacao markets, Hotel Chocolat offers us their version here.

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I’ve tried some of Marou’s chocolate, but my experience with Vietnamese cacao in general is pretty limited. I’m aware that they have a tendency towards being both earthy and acidic, but to say more than this would be overstepping my bounds. I find this both a difficult and an easy bar to judge, on the one hand some of its attributes wouldn’t traditionally score high, but in terms of the experience and the flavour this bar is entirely enjoyable. Reminiscent of a black forest chocolate fondant, this is a dark chocolatey and cakey affair with a ripe berry jam centre that punctuates the flavours and textures, which sounds great, but there’s a distinctly unrefined mouthfeel and the bar is inherently unbalanced. Hotel Chocolat liken this bar to a dragon, but for me it reminds me more of a handsome and charming young man in a leather jacket that drinks too much bourbon and smokes liquorice cigarettes, like this imaginary man the acidity is unruly, but in fairness never really gets out of control and like this imaginary man’s attributes this bar is complementary and well curated. For those that have an appreciation for the less refined or the slightly rustic, this bar is a great expression of unruly flavour and much like bourbon this bar is likely to liven things up and dampen your inhibitions.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium/dark brown light purpling
Texture: Smooth sandstone
Mould: Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 tablet mould
Snap: Crisp, hard, thick
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Floral tobacco, leather, plum jam, tonka bean
Quality: Rich, acidic

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Long, thick
Evenness: Even
Texture: Thick and sticky, jam, fudge, raw cake mixture
Quality: Unrefined, dense, little gritty, pleasurable

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 5
Notes: Ripe fruit
Quality: Pulsates in and out, uplifting, unpredictable

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Plum/berry jam
Quality: Developed, honest, rounded

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Plum/berry jam, rich roast, tobacco, bourbon, balsamic, black forest, charred cake ends
Quality: Distinctive, honest

Length 9/10

Flavours are long and move slowly as if in mud, acidity punctuates in and out with everything completing in the round

Finish 9/10

Notes: Jam, balsamic, uncooked chocolate cake mix
Quality: Spikes of acidity and a light sourness peak before you’re left with a lingering raw chocolate cake mix

Balance 8.5/10

This bar is essentially unbalanced, but its discord is equal to its harmony, everything almost needs to be as it is to be complementary. It is as if in the moment of eating the bar it is unbalanced, but by the end of having eaten it has found balance over the length of its experience, structure is dense and strong

Overall 9/10

Bar has depth and a good degree of dimension in darker more roasted flavours, sweetness while lower in intensity is particularly well developed, what it lacks in balance it makes up for in its individual and complementary expression while maintaining uniform structure


Hotel Chocolat’s Tasting Notes: A dragon with a taste for red fruit. Roars for olives and brown bread before gorging on red cherries, redcurrants and raspberries. Finally rolls over for a leathery tummy tickle of tannin and tobacco.

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