Chocolate Tree Venezuela Carenero 80% 88/100

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Named after the northern port town from which they ship, Carenero beans are grown in the Miranda province of Venezuela with some beans coming from growing regions in Barlovento. A mixture of trinitario and criollo varieties these beans once harvested are shipped to Haddington just east of Edinburgh to Chocolate Tree’s factory where husband and wife team Alastair & Friederike Gower turn these beans into one of Chocolate Tree’s chocolate bars.

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I’ve had the pleasure of trying a few bars made from Carenero grown cacao now and if I’m honest I find them quite variable in terms of terroir and flavour. It’s a fairly large growing area with seemingly varied genetics, in general there’s some more fruity acidity than in other Venezuelan varieties, but this isn’t always the case. I’m not entirely sure what to expect with this bar, but I’m hoping for a little refinement, some pleasant light acidity and some honest cocoa flavours.
Opening this bar the colour and the aromas definitely hint at something dark and brooding, with notes of treacle and carbon. This bar drags you through the dirty realms of its flavour, thick, viscose dark cocoa and dark sugar flavours develop into something more complex. There’s some hints in the aroma, a dark brooding selection of treacle, spices and carbon notes, giving you all the positive notes of a darker toned cocoa. The slow, thick melt of the mouthfeel reminding me of indulgent chocolate cake that saps the moisture from your mouth, forcing you to enjoy its ultra chocolateyness. The flavours come on deep and intense, without being overwhelming, with wintry spice and dark fruit preserves layered over some treacley sweetness, it’s here where other flavours come to make themselves heard, with hazelnuts and a bunch of sweet florals with violets and apple blossom. This is an expression of a roast intended to develop as many sugars in the cocoa beans as possible, to bring out the most developed flavours of the cocoa, not just the high notes, getting to the very earthy heart of this cocoas individual expression. This bar offers a complex look at an origin and using a dense structure it makes this developed expression palatable. I’ve tried some of the Careneros before and they’ve taste like dark spicy chocolates, but this one has a dark spicy feel not just to the flavour, but to its whole experience, the processing reflects the origin and vice versa. This bar lacks some elegance and refinement, but instead it offers intensity and an expression of darkness that’s not offputtingly bitter or lacking in complex fruit. This is a great bar for people looking for something darker, but without wanting to compromise on flavour.

Ingredients: Cacao beans, organic cane sugar

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Darker brown, medium purpling
Texture: Clean cut rough stone, weathered marble
Mould:
Chocolate Tree flower print uneven blocks
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte, consistent

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7.5
Notes: Treacle, violet jam, carbon, spiced black tea
Quality: Deep, distinctive

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Very long, firm
Evenness: Even
Texture: Treacle toffee, cakey brownie
Quality: Thick, full, dry

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 4
Notes: Preserved fruit
Quality: Tart, cutting


Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Preserved fruit, treacle
Quality: Developed, darkly intense

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Damson jam, winter spice, cocoa, carbon, dark spirit, hazelnut, violet, apple blossom
Quality: Complex interplay, developed

Length 9/10

Flavours are deep and long, lasting and developing for an age, acidity remains rounded, but sweet and flavour notes seem to forget to end

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Apple blossom, cocoa, dry
Quality: There’s a sweet fruity floral note in the peak of the finish, followed by a cakey brownie lingering impression

Balance 9/10

Flavours are a bit erratic and there is a complexity here, but the bar as a whole remains balanced, a dense structure provides the majority of the stability

Overall 9/10

There is a tonne of depth here and some degree of dimension, especially in the sugars, consistent structure helps balance the complexity, expression is indicative of origin, percentage and roast, a darker roast here has brought out the more developed tones of the origin. This is a specific fraction of expression in origin, a combination of honest terroir and processing, rather than a general expression of origin.


Tasting Notes: A high percentage chocolate made from the carenero superior cacao of the central Venezuelan coast. Fruit, nut and spice notes.

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