Marou Vietnam Dak Lak 70% 90/100


Made with trinitario cacao from highland district of Ea Kar in Dak Lak province set in the heart of south eastern Vietnam. Once harvested and fermented these beans make their way to Saigon, where Samuel Maruta and Vincent Mourou turn them into one of Marou’s beautiful chocolate bars.


I’ve tried a small amount of Vietnamese cocoa to date and I’ve even tried some of Marou’s chocolate bars, but that was a long time ago. My takeaway experience from trying Vietnamese cacao was that it was significantly fruity and powerfully acidic, less intense than some Madagascans, but rooted in a thick muddy earthiness that allowed the acidity to be more robust without being overpowering. I’m aware that Marou produce a number of bars and that all the cocoa comes from Vietnam, suggesting some varied and distinctive flavours from across Vietnam as a country, so my expectations are only general, but I would still expect an earthy cocoa, with a hard acidity possibly of red fruit. My hope is that these bars offer some refinement where there has been some absence of in the past and that they maintain a good degree of balance. Opening the bar I’m presented with the attractive Marou symbol leaping out of their uneven pieced slab, breaking off a piece the distinctive aroma comes off quickly with smokey and earthy notes that lead to berry jam tones. Placing a piece in my mouth, there’s a smooth and even melt that begins to open up textures and flavours of Jersey full fat milk, creamy and milky all at once. To taste I’m brought back to a childhood of tutti frutti sweets and ice cream flavours, with mixtures of jellied confectionary type fruits coming through, this isn’t a criticism here, these fruit flavours while confectionary like are nicely refined, presenting a medley of fruit flavours. Raspberry, rose and apricot are the pick out fruits, but there’s a complexity amongst these light fruity top notes that float around their milky cocoa base. This bar is lighter than I had expected with the earthiness taking place in the base notes, which leads to a sharp divide between the solid grounded base notes and the airy lightness of the top notes, which allows for a great degree of balance. In the end this bar manages to remain complex and balanced, while providing an interesting fruit driven flavour, that’s expressive of its origin. One of the more refined and balanced of the Vietnamese chocolates I’ve tried, one to savour for a time when you’re looking for something interesting without looking to forgive imperfections in the process.

Ingredients: Cocoa, cocoa butter, cane sugar

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium earthy brown
Texture: Very smooth
Mould: Marou big M segment slab
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss, consistent

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Smokey, tobacco, red berry jam
Quality: Deep, earthy, natural

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Smooth, Jersey milk
Quality: Smooth, refined

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Raspberry
Quality: Fruity, rounding

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Ripe fruit, confectionary
Quality: Developed, confectionary

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Tutti frutti, raspberry, rose, earthy cocoa, Jersey milk, apricot
Quality: Complex, sweet

Length 9/10

Flavours are fairly long in length, lasting throughout the melt, rounds come infrequently from the acidity

Finish 9/10

Notes: Tutti frutti, apricot, Jersey milk, cocoa
Quality: Fruity tones fill the end, before peaks of apricot on the finish, played out by lingering tones of creamy full fat milk and waves of cocoa

Balance 9/10

Bar has a soft balance, decent structure holds the bar steady while light flavours and acidity blend well on top of a firm base

Overall 9/10

Bar has deep base notes with light top notes that maintain enough depth, top notes are well dimensioned, complexities are given decent balance, structure is firm and consistent, expression seems honest and individual, processing has provided a smooth base for terroir to express itself

Marou’s Tasting Notes: A wonderfully complex bar with a long spicy finish, made with a selection of the finest cacao from the highland districts of Dak Lak province


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