Hotel Chocolat Colombia Aracataca 75% 88.5/100

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These Colombian beans are from the Northern Part of Colombia on the coast of the Carribean Sea nestled in the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Nevada being the world’s highest coastal range creating the fertile valleys in which to grow the Aracataca beans. The Sierra Nevada region is also home to the Arhuacos, an indigenous community who have been harvesting cocoa for over 2000 years. Unlike many other cocoa producing countries, Colombia eat a large proportion of their cocoa crop internally and so as an origin it has only just begun to emerge and develop its fine flavour cacao for export.

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I have tried this bar before, but it was a small piece from the London Coffee Festival, so our encounter was brief to say the least. I remember it having some acidity, but its main charms being a smooth milkyness that was somewhat unusual for a 75% that contained only cocoa and sugar. My expectations for this bar were in line with my previous experience, although my hopes were to reveal more layers to this bar, which I hadn’t had time to discover before. Opening the bar there’s these complex and distinctive aromas of lightly malic fruit with some sweet earthy notes of tobacco and leather. There’s this big long mouthfeel, which slowly starts revealing its flavour. This is an easy bar to enjoy, it doesn’t ask a lot of you, it’s not overly complex or overly acidic and there’s a lot of balance. It’s a fairly smooth ride from start to finish with a few peaks of acidity towards the end that grab your attention, but otherwise there’s a solid structure with odd tones of milk and wood that keep the proceedings generally mellow. There’s some tasty fruit in here too, but these flavours could stretch out a bit and take more of a centre stage for me. Mostly this is an easy going bar with some good processing and a pleasurable expression of origin. I suspect fans of milk chocolate might thoroughly enjoy this bar, with it tasting a little like a really great milk bar, not that it has any milk in it at all. Best eaten when in need of chocolate, but trying to relax.

Ingredients: Cocoa solids (cocoa mass, cocoa butter), sugar

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Smooth, lightly sandy
Mould:
Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 tablet mould
Snap: Very crisp, heavy
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Red grapes, honey tobacco, red toffee apples, hint of leather
Quality: Complex, distinctive

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Slow start, speeds up towards the end
Texture: Muddy, velvety, smooth
Quality: Full, Thick, Pleasurable

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7.5
Notes: Grapes, apple
Quality: Uplifting, lightly tart


Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Honey, toffee sauce
Quality: Light, uplifting

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Woody, red grapes, red apples, honey, milk
Quality: Subtly complex

Length 8/10

Slow starter, gets longer as it goes on, but still feels like it could go a little further, acidity in the back end begins the late rounds

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Red apple, milk, honey toasted wheat
Quality: Bursts of red apple acidity lead the bar out to a milky finish with notes of honey toasted wheat that fade leaving the milk to dissipate

Balance 9.5/10

While levels aren’t exactly even, they blend well and create a lot of balance, chocolate takes a pretty smooth ride, with a strongish structure that keeps everything in place

Overall 9/10

There is a good amount of depth and dimension here and all complexities are well balanced, structure is uniform and expression is honest, although I wonder whether the bar could be developed a touch further


Hotel Chocolat’s Tasting Notes: The long lost brother of Cienaga. Aracataca has an outburst of grapefruit and dried raisin with undertones of woody acidity finishing with a hint of roasted notes and a trill of coffee.

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