From the north east of the Dominican Republic in the Maria Trinidad Sanchez region a mix of trinitario and criollo are grown at the Loma Sotavento plantation for Valrhona. Valrhona based in Tain-l’Hermitage, part of the Rhone Valley, are well known for producing high end gastronomic chocolate, so it’s nice to see that they’re still intent producing a single plantation chocolate for those of us that are planning on eating the chocolate rather than cooking with it.
I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate from the Dominican Republic, but I’ve not necessarily tried a lot of different bars from this origin. I’m aware that the cocoa tends to be darker and more robust with the possibility of some red fruit or wine flavours coming through, the better chocolate tends to be balanced by a red fruit acidity. This experience tends to be with bars from the Dominican Republic, but here we have beans from one single plantation, which I would expect to give a more unique or potentially different flavour profile. I’d still expect this bar to be a little darker, in spite of the 64% cocoa, but I’m aware that this is going to be a little sweeter than I’m used to, my hope is that this presents itself as a more refined cocoa from the Dominican Republic. Opening the bar, it’s always fun to see the uneven and unusual crazy paving like segments from Valrhona, breaking a piece off there’s sweet aromas of cocoa, apricot and cherry with hints of almond reminding me of cherry bakewells. To taste this bar isn’t unappealing, nor is there much wrong with it exactly, it’s just a bit underwhelming. There are fruit flavours and there’s some interesting elements, they’re just not overly dimensioned or developed. The processing for this bar makes for a silky mouthfeel and a smooth balance, with the highlight probably coming from the finish, which leaves some sweet almond milk tones floating around, but the flavour is neither deep not dimensioned, it’s light and airy and fails to create a decent length or round. The bar as a result ends up feeling a bit flat, all style and no substance, in preventing any faults, very little risk has been taken, leading to very little reward. If you’re a fan of smooth and delicate inoffensive chocolate then this is a nice bar, but if you’re looking for something more robust and flavoursome then there’s plenty of more intense and chocolatey bars from the Dominican Republic.
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, brown sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla
Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Chalky fudge
Mould: Valrhona crazy paving segments
Temp/Shine: Gloss and matte, consistent
Notes: Cocoa, apricot, cherry, almond
Texture: Silky, smooth, soft set jam
Quality: Refined, light, but full
Notes: Peach, apricot
Quality: Hollow, light
Notes: Gomme, soft set stonefruit jam
Quality: Light, underdeveloped
Notes: Peach jam, apricot, blanched almond, malted milk
Quality: Light, balanced
Flavours feel a little short and lack fullness, round doesn’t quite come
Notes: White sugar, blanched almonds, malted milk
Quality: sweet fruity high notes fill the finish before a sweet almond milk tone lingers
While sweetness can come to dominate, bar is otherwise, light smooth and balanced, medium structure is more than strong enough to impose on the light flavours that never really threaten to overwhelm
The bar has a small amount of depth, but lacks dimension, there is little complexity to balance, structure is consistent, expression seems individual and honest, but lacks developed expression, processing provides balance and mouthfeel, but without focussing intently on individual flavour
Valrhona’s Tasting Notes: In the Maria Trinidad Sanchez region, in the northeastern section of the Dominican Republic, lies the Valrhona cocoa plantation. Long on the palate, very balanced and chocolatey, the round and light ripe fruit notes gently give away to a delicate touch of roasted aromas.