Naïve Nicaragua Nicalizo 72% 91/100


Grown in the tropical forests of the northern mountains of Nicaragua towards the Honduran border, these beans are a Trinitario-Acriollado variety that has been designated Heirloom cacao number 8 by Once harvested they are shipped to Naïve’s chocolate factory on the outskirts of Vilnius where Domantas Užpalis turns them into one of Naïve’s chocolate bars.


I’ve tried some Nicaraguan chocolate and I’m aware of some of its tendencies, but I’m also aware of some varied and specific genetics from Rugoso to Chuno to Johe and even Nicalizo, so it’s a little difficult to pin down exactly. My general impression is that Nicaragua tends to impart darker flavours as a terroir, flavours such as dried fruits and dark aged spice, but this is a general rather than specific impression and I’m not tied to it in anyway. The genetics have a large effect to play here and Friis Holm’s bars show that even the fermentation can have a large effect on the flavour, so with that in mind I’m pretty open, but I’ll still be keeping an eye out for darker flavour tones. Opening the bar there’s Naïve’s fun little unicycle slab with its consistent tempering, breaking off a piece there’s aromas of chocolate caramels and browned butters providing the base for some distant fruits. To taste this bar takes you on a bit of a journey, starting out with jam like berry and tropical fruit acidity that takes you through waves of fruity excitement, before it pairs down to bananas and custard apples as it slowly becomes all creamy before the finish. There’s complexity here, but even more so there’s a great degree of dimension to the flavour, which is cleverly rounded out and smoothed over with the addition of extra cocoa butter. These bold flavours have good length and are impressively balanced considering the depth and dimension of flavour, creating an honest and individual bar that’s a pleasure to enjoy. Naïve Chocolate might make most of their bars with inclusions, but with their single origins this good, part of me has to wonder why as I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this again.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, pure cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium to light brown
Texture: Creamy smooth
Mould: Embossed Naïve unicycle slab
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Consistent matte

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Chocolate caramel, browned butter, faint mango and grape
Quality: Fragrant, subtly complex

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long, malleable
Evenness: Flexible, but even
Texture: Jelly, soft set jam, glossy, creamy
Quality: Pleasurable, fun, present

Acidity 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Tayberry, mango
Quality: Bright, complex, rounded

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Ripe fruit, caramel
Quality: Developed, natural, balanced

Flavour 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Sweet
Notes: Red berries/cherry, tropical fruit, banana, custard apple, vanilla custard
Quality: Complex, honest

Length 9/10

Flavours are bold and round well, stretching out a fair distance

Finish 9/10

Notes: Vanilla custard, creamy fruit, smoke
Quality: Back end fruit of banana and custard apple give way to a vanilla custard finish, leaving a lingering juicy sensation filled with reminiscent creamy fruit and a hint of smoke

Balance 9/10

Acidic start and creamy finish marry up well to provide balance here, levels are well equalized and the heavy but malleable structure provides decent anchoring

Overall 9/10

There is depth of flavour here, but a much higher degree of dimension, complexities are well balanced by the additional cocoa butter and structure while flexible is consistent, expression seems distinctive and honest while processing has attempted to refine, round and balance the fruity cacao

Naïve’s Tasting Notes: These Central American beans have a labyrinthine flavour profile and long lasting aftertaste. As an origin of cacao, Nicaragua Nicalizo represents an important chapter in the overall chocolate encyclopedia.


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