Willie’s Cacao Madagascan Gold Sambirano 71 86.5/100


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 and with this bar being made from trinitario beans, which are also fruity in nature, it has the potential to be indicative of Madagascar’s notoriously fruity terroir. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Uffculme, a small town in Devon to Willie’s factory, where using antique machinery Willie begins the process of turning them into one of his delectable single estate cacao bars. Using only raw cane sugar and adding only a small amount of additional cacao butter Willie likes to keep things fairly simple, intending to bring out the subtle and individual flavours of each of his beans.


No two bars of chocolate are the same, not even the ones in the same packaging. Never is this statement truer than with Willie’s Cacao, while Willie’s cacao is wonderful, it’s also a bit inconsistent and so some bars tend to be more wonderful than others. This must be the fifth or sixth time I’ve tried this bar and none of them have been the same, similar, but never the same. Willie’s Sambirano was the first bar that really enlightened me to the possibilities that were contained in single origin chocolate and for that reason alone I love this bar, although it is worth noting that this isn’t the best version of the bar that I’ve tried and it’s not the worst either. This makes scoring a bar like this difficult, on the one hand the score is reflective of the bar that was tried, but isn’t necessarily reflective of the experience that you would have when trying this bar. These are the problems that you encounter when chocolate is made with vintage machinery, by an eccentric personality, some days you’re faced with disappointment and difficulty and other days you’re swept up in a whirlwind of magic, which of these days and which of these bars you’re getting, just like life, is a bit of a lottery. What you will get with this bar regardless is a bright fruity chocolate with a confident acidity and flavours of red berries and at the price Willie charges it’s worth buying one periodically to find a magical one.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium brown, medium purpling
Texture: Sandy, very smooth
Mould: Willie’s cocoa pod square block mould
Snap: Very crisp, thick
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss, very consistent

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Berry jam, cocoa, raw hazelnuts, balsamic
Quality: Rich, authentic

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Mostly even
Texture: Smooth, foam, buttery
Quality: Rich, aerated, inconsistent

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Berries, strawberry jam
Quality: Bright, uplifting

Sweetness 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Berry Jam, grape must, caramelised nuts
Quality: Little overwhelmed

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7.5
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Berries, cocoa, hazelnuts, peach
Quality: Honest, distinctive

Length 9/10

Long cocoa holds the round together as berries fleet in and out punctuating the deep cocoa

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Berries, peach, cocoa
Quality: Berries leap in and out before a peach tone pervades the finish, leaving a sweet lingering cocoa

Balance 8.5/10

Sweetness falls behind acidity, flavour and bitterness, while other attributes remain complementary, medium/strong structure holds bar together

Overall 8.5/10

Bar has some depth and dimension to the flavour, along with a degree of complexity, balance could be more refined, but structure remains consistent, bean, bar and acidity could do with some additional development to optimise flavour

Willie’s Cacao
Tasting Notes: Notes of summer fruits


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