Solkiki Dominican Republic Castillo 72% 90.5/100

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The Hispaniola Amelonado beans for this bar are directly sourced from a farmers collective that spreads across 182 farmers in the Dominican Republic. Once harvested and processed they are shipped to Iris and Bob in Dorset, where foregoing their degrees in Clinical Psychology and Human-Computer Interaction, they instead turn their passion and skills to turning these beans into one of their vegan chocolate bars. Using cobbled together equipment at their dedicated chocolate workshop, they stonegrind their chocolate using intensive labour in place of high tech gadgetry to produce their craft chocolate.

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I’ve tried a lot of chocolate from the Dominican Republic, but often from non craft chocolate makers and usually in cheap bars or at higher percentages. My experience so far has been of a chocolate that expresses dark cocoa and earthy tones, but with a propensity for red berry notes when it’s at its best. Flavoursome maybe, but rarely refined or dimensioned. Opening this bar there’s some attractive moulding and breaking off a piece there’s a distinctly improved experience for me in terms of the aroma, it’s the opposite of what I’d expected, yes its earthy and has a natural cocoa base, but it’s refined and dimensioned with some hints of florals. To taste there’s this fudgey thick mouthfeel that opens up with flavours of leather, it’s kind of earthy and robust, but in a deep and dimensioned way. Here any red fruits are replaced with black and there’s a fruity low acidity from blackcurrants and blackberry leaf. A dark sugar sweetness keeps the flavour from being too much and the flavour begins to display some smokey fermented notes, which after finishing the tasting and reading the tasting notes I appreciate is indeed a good lapsang souchong. In the end this feels like a fine cacao in an earthy terroir with some funky natural processing, producing a great robust flavour, but not necessarily a clean honest display of genetics and terroir. That is to say, that if this was a coffee it would be a naturally processed coffee rather than a washed coffee, an expression of great flavour rather than an expression of terroir through clarity. This might sound like a criticism, but it’s not, there’s great flavour developed here and I’d say this is the best bar I’ve had from the Dominican Republic yet, still I’d be interested to see what the next harvest has to offer.

Ingredients: Organic Hispaniola cacao bean, organic bonechar-free sugar

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Smooth, light fudge
Mould: Solkiki flower print slab
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Refined cocoa, floral, bergamot, blackberry leaf
Quality: Dimensioned, refined

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Medium to long, thick
Evenness: Even
Texture: Fudgey, smooth, clay
Quality: Full, heavy, thick

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 4
Notes: Blackcurrant, blackberry leaf
Quality: Fruity, rounded, little short

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Ripe blackcurrants, light muscovado, dark toffee
Quality: Developed, complementary, natural

Flavour 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Leather, blackcurrant, blackberry leaf, fermented woodsmoke
Quality: Subtly complex, dimensioned, robust

Length 9/10

Flavours are long and murky, getting longer along the melt and more dimensioned, rounds come on the end of long fruity acidity

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Blackcurrant, smoke, dry
Quality: Flashes of fruit and smokey cocoa fill the end before a smooth drying sensation lingers on after the finish with notes of cocoa

Balance 9/10

Bar falls accidentally into balance, there are robust flavours here, but with a heavy structure there’s a lot of anchoring, complementary attributes encourage harmony

Overall 9.5/10

Bar has plenty of depth and plenty of dimension, complexities are densely balanced and structure is heavy and consistent, expression seems honest of terroir and bean processing, bar processing provides necessary smoothness to exhibit the flavor


Solkiki’s Tasting Notes: Grown and fermented in northeastern Dominican Repulic from a rare strain of cacao, these beans exhibit a main note of round, sweet, chocolatey tobacco. Bright acidic notes pierce the smoky baseline to reveal an intricate, balanced and unique chocolate.

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