Pump Street Bakery Akesson’s Estate Madagascar Criollo 74% 90.5/100

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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. These beans however, are from criollo heritage and so are from a less fruity variety to the traditional trinitario stock in Madagascar, exhibiting more refined cocoa notes instead. Only around two tonnes of criollo are produced every year, so in a sense this is a rare bar from a limited crop. This bar comes from Pump Street Bakery’s award winners collection box.  

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I’ve tried a few Madagascan criollos now and I have to admit I’m becoming very fond of them, it’s clear that there’s some good growing practices going on at Akesson’s estate. They’re noticeably more refined than their trinitario neighbours, but retain plenty of fruity acidity from the Madagascan terroir, giving them a great balance between fruity and quality flavour types. This particular bar starts off with a slightly more distinctive and fragrant aroma that contains the usual red berry and balsamic tones, but with a noticeable herbaceous element. The first thing that is noticeable about this bar is the beautiful mouthfeel, all smooth creaminess over a long and even melt, which makes this bar a textural pleasure to eat. The rest of this bar owes a lot to the quality of the beans, there’s distinct flavour qualities of both acidity and flavour types that follow, bright and refined berries with developed berry syrup sweetness, but there are some light hints that it could have been even better. The finish isn’t quite as pleasurable as it could have been and the interesting herbaceous note, becomes a little tenuous by the end, while the bar achieves a round, a slightly longer acidity followed by greater roundedness would make this bar absolutely stellar. Overall though this rare cacao has great flavour and is a pleasure to eat while remaining distinctly different from the other Madagascan criollos I’ve tried. I suspect this might go pretty well with an aged hard cheese or a complementary sweet rose.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Light milky brown
Texture: Fudgey, creamy
Mould:
4×4 simple well portioned squares
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Tobacco, balsamic, red berries, herbaceous
Quality: Sweet, fragrant, distinctive

Melt/Mouthfeel 9.5/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Smooth, creamy
Quality: Firm, full, rich

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Soft red berries, apricot jam
Quality: Bright, refined, slightly short

Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Light caramel, strawberry and raspberry syrup
Quality: Developed, uplifting

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet
Notes: Red berries, apricot jam, caramel, milk, hint of herb
Quality: Distinctive, complex, full

Length 9/10

Flavours are long and do round off, but could get there with a little more finesse

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Berries, apricot jam, green herb
Quality: Creamy acidic fruit flavours come to an end, with a hint of green herb on the finish, before a lingering sensation similar to menthol 

Balance 9/10

Bars levels are well equalised and so balance isn’t hard to come by, creaminess helps smooth the bar out and a medium structure holds the flavour together

Overall 9/10

There is both depth and dimension of flavour here, complexity is easily balanced and structure is uniform, expression is honest of terroir and creaminess is indicative of Pump Street Bakery’s style

Pump Street Bakery’s Tasting Notes: A rosy, light coloured dark chocolate with a smooth creamy mouthfeel. Bright forward flavours of raspberry and membrillo with hints of grassiness.

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