Chocolate Tree Venezuela Porcelana 85% 93/100


From the north west of Venezuela’s Sur Del Lago region, which literally means south of the lake, these Porcelana beans are grown close to Lake Maracaibo on a small selection of single estate farms. Renowned for their delicate criollo profile Porcelana beans grow white rather than the purple and brown hues we traditionally associate with cacao beans due to the absence of the flavonoid anthocyanin, which is responsible for the purple colour. This absence of anthocyanin is responsible for the lack of bitterness and in this particular case Chocolate Tree have tried to select beans of a fruity nature. Once harvested these beans 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.


I’ve tried a few Porcelana bars now, but all of them have been around the 70% mark and so this represents the darkest of the bunch at 85%. I’m interested to see how the delicate profile of a porcelana that usually lacks any bitterness matches up with a higher more traditionally bitter percentage. From my experience Chocolate Tree seem to be pretty good at developing flavour from their beans, if occasionally this can be a little volatile, here I would expect the intrinsic refined nature of Porcelana beans to be a great help. Opening the bar it’s always nice to find two separately wrapped pieces – one for now, one for later – and the usual come to be expected good chocolate processing work with an initial floral tinged aroma. There’s intense cocoa and buried beneath it is a hint of red fruit and purple florals on the nose with a refined profile. To taste there’s a subtleness to the flavour as it develops slowly in terms of intensity and complexity bringing with it waves of red berry jam, papaya and caramels with a malted biscuit base. This bar has a very full feel, it’s kind of dark with a heavy structure that allows for this interweaving subtle complexity of flavours to wander in and out, it’s definitely one where the reward is in the paying of attention. This bar probably has the most refined and delicate top notes of any 85% I’ve tried, choosing to combat the high percentage with quality flavours rather than high acidity, Chocolate Tree suggest you should enjoy in small quantities, but I ignored this advice and kept going back to delve into the complexities. This is definitely a quiet day chocolate, where its best attributes are displayed when there’s little distraction around to prevent you enjoying it, my advice would be to enjoy in secret and eat as much as you like.

Ingredients: Cacao beans, organic cane sugar

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Very smooth
Mould: Chocolate Tree flower print uneven blocks
Snap: Crisp, thick, fine
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Intense cocoa, hints of red fruit, hints of violets and lavender
Quality: Dark, refined

Melt/Mouthfeel 9.5/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even, speeds up a little at the end
Texture: Very smooth
Quality: Refined, full, very smooth

Acidity 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Red berries, papaya
Quality: Honest, uplifting, sweet

Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Berry jam, dark caramel
Quality: Developed, honest, natural

Flavour 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Malty caramel biscuit, papaya, seedless raspberry jam, strawberry yoghurt
Quality: Characterful, subtly complex, deep

Length 9.5/10

Flavours enter and leave subtly, but have a long arcing length, acidity helps with the round

Finish 9/10

Notes: Papaya, raspberry jam, malted biscuit
Quality: Top notes of papaya and raspberry jam dissipate, returning to its beginning as a malted biscuit, which lingers on a while

Balance 9/10

Heavy structure provides a lot of stability here, harmony weaves its way in and out with the fruity acidity, this is a robust rather than a refined balance

Overall 9.5/10

This bar has a noticeable depth, with a good degree of dimension to follow, subtle complexity is robustly managed by a consistent but heavy structure, expression seems honest of terroir and percentage, refined processing manages well to keep out of the way

Chocolate Tree’s Tasting Notes: Tropical fruit basket. Spice aroma + earthiness bring it back to ground. Enjoy in small quantities.


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