Åkesson’s Madagascar Ambolikapiky Plantation 100% Criollo 90/100

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Bertil Åkesson owns cacao plantations in Brazil, Indonesia and most famously in Madagascar and chances are that if you’re eating single origin Madagascan chocolate from craft bean to bar makers, it’ll be his beans that you’re eating. Ambolikapiky is one of four cacao growing estates in the north western region of Madagascar located in the Sambirano Valley near Ambanja, but it’s the main one Bertil uses to make his own Madagascan bars. Åkesson’s only grow about 2 tonnes of criollo every year, so in a sense this is a rare bar from a limited crop.

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I can’t say that I’ve been particularly enjoying the 100% bars that I’ve been trying, they’re interesting and it’s important to see what the beans taste like at 70% and what those same beans taste like at 100%, but there’s a reason why we traditionally include sugar. I’ve tried to score objectively based on their attributes and score them in both relation and comparison to bars that include sugar, but they are essentially a whole different animal. Having tried these beans at 75%, I’m hoping these yield a slightly more favourable profile at 100%, I’m hoping they resemble this in some way, a more intense, but less acidic version of the 75%. Opening the bar, everything seems familiar, although the bar is a much darker colour than the 75% was, the aroma while lacking a lot of power, was in all fairness pretty complex and elegant feeling like being stood in the land these beans grow in. Tasting the chocolate it reveals – as I would expect a 100% to reveal – bitter earthy tones that dominate the opening to this bar. From here I begin to get pretty impressed, the bar is as buttery as it is astringent and the longer the melt goes on the more fruity the bar becomes in spite of its earthiness, there’s also a non sugary sweetness that helps the bar along. Don’t get me wrong this is a bitter and intense 100% just like the other 100%ers, but this might be about as good as a 100% bar gets for me in terms of its flavour profile and probably a nod to why it’s so successful as a 75% bar. With plenty of intrinsic qualities in the processing and great flavours from the beans coming through underneath the earthy bitterness, this bar offers the best of a difficult to process percentage. If you want to find out whether you can handle or even enjoy a 100% chocolate bar, this might be the easiest place to start.

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic cocoa butter, emulsifier (GMO free soya lecithin – 1/1000)

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Dark brown
Texture: Smooth, sandy
Mould:
Big Å Åkesson’s mould
Snap: Crisp, hard
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 5
Notes: Red berries, peppery, rubber, raspberry florals
Quality: Complex, elegant, perfumed

Melt/Mouthfeel 9.5/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Glossy, smooth, creamy
Quality: Lighter, refined, lightly astringent

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 2
Notes: Raspberry
Quality: Balancing, uplifting, overwhelmed


Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Raspberries, salted caramel
Quality: Balancing, uplifting, overwhelmed

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Bitter, salt
Notes: Earthy tones, faint berries, raspberry pips, roasted nuts, toasted seed loaf, salt
Quality: Distinctive, deep, bright(considering 100%)

Length 9.5/10

Flavours extend their way over the melt, getting longer and more rounded as the melt goes on

Finish 9/10

Notes: Berries, roasted nuts, toasted seed loaf, salt
Quality: Visible fruit disappears before a touch of salt on the finish, leaving a buttery texture and lightly lingering earthy tones

Balance 9/10

Bar is dark and robust first, but the overwhelmed sweetness and acidity seem to be separately in balance and striving to balance the bar out, medium to strong structure keeps the bar from attempting to get wild

Overall 9.5/10

Bar has depth and a good degree of dimension considering, there is complexity here, which is well balanced, structure wavers a little, but is pretty consistent, expression is true of terroir and particularly honest as 100%


Åkesson’s Tasting Notes: This chocolate has a very expressive cocoa aroma with subtle fruity-sweet tartness and pleasant flavour notes that evoke citrus and red berries.

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