Chocolat Bonnat Venezuela Hacienda El Rosario 75% 90/100

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Inland from the northern Venezuelan coast with Caracas to its west and local cacao neighbours Carenero and La Sabana to the north, lies the Hacienda El Rosario. Here this single estate grows its famous cacao, which is harvested and shipped to Voiron in France where Stephane Bonnat turns it into one of his ‘Les Grand Crus Historiques’. Chocolat Bonnat have too much history and expertise to write about here, but have a plethora of information available on their website http://www.bonnat-chocolatier.com/fr including an ungodly array of single origin and grand cru chocolate bars for you to marvel at. 

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I’ve tried bars from this region before, I’ve tried Bonnats chocolate a couple of times now and I was even lucky enough to sample this bar at London Coffee Festival. So I have some expectations for this bar, I’m expecting the spicy notes that come from cocoa collected around Barlovento and the smooth creaminess I’ve come to expect from Bonnat’s bars. Beyond that I’m looking forward to the refined cocoa notes that come from Venezuelan chocolate bars. Opening the bar, it’s the well portioned Bonnat Voiron mould with some rich floral cocoa aromas emanating from it. To taste this is an intense bar, with intense flavour and long, deep dimensions. A mixture of terroir and processing have created some heavily developed sugars, which produce base heavy notes of molasses and muscovado sugar. Combined with dark spices, this feels like an aged spirit, but without the alcoholic distraction from the flavour. If there was anything missing it would be the inclusion of a more intense apple brandy acidity to lift the bar out of the darkness a little. It reminds me of Christmas, but even more so of the aromas of an aged brandy or rum, with hints at the use of a sherry cask, there’s also a nod to ginger loafs and Yorkshire parkin providing a spiced cakey sweetness. This is a bar that drags you into its experience and takes you deep before finishing almost abruptly, which is only an issue if you’ve finished the bar. For those that enjoy aged flavours, especially intense and solid ones, then this bar is likely to be for you.

Ingredients: Cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium brown, light purpling
Texture: Smooth, hard
Mould: Bonnat Voiron centre with 6×5 fingers
Snap: Crisp, thick
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte consistent

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Intense cocoa, florals, honeysuckle, pollen
Quality: Perfumed, rich

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Very long, hard
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Thick honey, syrup, smooth
Quality: Full, heavy

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Calvados
Quality: Uplifting

Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Dark muscovado sugar, molasses
Quality: Dimensioned, developed

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Parkin, madeira, crystallised ginger, burnt sugar, clove, brandy snap, cinnamon
Quality: Rich, complex

Length 9.5/10

Flavours are long and brooding, sitting as if they have been deep and aged, sweetness rounds in the end somewhere distant

Finish 9/10

Notes: Molasses, spice, dry
Quality: Big brooding complex sugars and dark spices bruise their way to the end, before being swallowed cleanly by a dryish finish

Balance 9/10

There is the minor lack of acidity to provide additional cutting balance, but otherwise bar remains on an even keel with flavour and sweetness marrying perfectly, heavy structure provides a large base and a lot of anchoring

Overall 9/10

Bar has depth of flavour and sweet and spice notes have huge dimension, structure is consistently heavy, expression is individual and distinctive and indicative of terroir, but feels largely impressioned by the roast, bringing out specifically intentional flavours, fortunately ones of great dimension


Tasting Notes: Wonderful cocoa multiplicity of delicate flavors, power and sensitivity.  It will delight amateurs.

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