On the eastern most tip of Brazil’s Bahia region on the coast just south of Salvador as part of the protected Pratigi zone is where the Juliana plantation grow their cocoa. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Voiron in France where Stephane Bonnat turns it into one of his ‘Les Grand Crus’. Chocolat Bonnat have too much history and expertise to write about here, but have a plethora of information available on their website http://www.bonnat-chocolatier.com/fr including an ungodly array of single origin and grand cru chocolate bars for you to marvel at.
I’ve tried some Brazilian cocoa before, but given the vast size of the country I’m still not sure of a general Brazilian profile when it comes to flavour. My initial experiences pointed at archetypal flavours of cocoa, caramel and nuts, but I’ve since experienced fruity flavours and even the possibility of some florals. These beans are from an area close to where Bonnat’s M.Libanio bar is harvested from and so I have a feeling they may be on the fruity side. My experience of Bonnat’s bars also suggest that the bar itself is likely to be both smooth and creamy. Opening the bar I’m presented with the usual high quality Bonnat chocolate work and Voiron mould, breaking off a piece with a crisp snap, the aromas immediately start wafting up from the chocolate. There’s a floral nature to the cocoa, with hints of acidity and some citrus and green notes too. Placing a piece in my mouth the chocolate is somewhat glossy and syrupy, but otherwise it’s the usual long creamy even melt of a Bonnat bar. To taste it reminds me a lot of a Mars Ice Cream or a Topic bar, all cocoa, caramel and sweet nuts, these flavours dominate and while simple in profile are well refined, deep and sufficiently dimensioned, this is a set of simple flavours exhibited really well. In this manner it reminds me a lot of a coffee roasted by Amsterdam based roasters White Label Coffee, a Brazilian Tobazio peaberry, which exhibited flavours of cocoa, caramel and nuts, but stood out from the rest of the Brazilian coffee of the time due to the quality of its flavour. This set of archetypal flavours does have a pervading fruitiness to it though, not acidic, but definitely fruity and rather than being any one fruit in particular rather it tastes of a fruit medley or cocktail with a subtle note of taro that blends well with the cream. Beyond the flavour there’s great length and a particularly refined balance, the combination of transparent quality flavours and the soft creamy balance of Bonnat’s processing makes for a particularly accessible and indulgent bar, which is as enjoyable as it is intellectually pleasing. Another bar proving that Brazil has plenty to offer when it comes to high end chocolate, best enjoyed as a nostalgic trip down the road of classic chocolate flavours.
Ingredients: Cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar
Colour: Medium brown, faint purpling
Mould: Bonnat Voiron centre with 6×5 fingers
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte
Notes: Intense floral cacao, light red berry acidity, touch of orange and grass
Quality: Refined, fragrant, subtly complex
Texture: Creamy, glossy, syrupy
Quality: Refined, mouthcoating
Notes: Chocolate liqueur, cachaça
Quality: Uplifting, light
Notes: Hazelnut milk, caramel, cane sugar
Quality: Developed, bright, uplifting
Notes: Hazelnut milk, earthy cocoa, caramel, taro, fruit cocktail
Quality: Fruity, deep, balanced
Flavours are long and creamy staying present for the length of the melt, rounds come on the peaks of sweet caramel
Notes: Fruity, creamy cocoa, caramel, nuts
Quality: Fruity flavours fill the end before a finish of creamy cocoa, caramel and nutty background notes that linger
This bar has a refined balance with all its aspects being complementary, creamy nature and dense structure help to keep flavour together
Bar has plenty of depth and a fair amount of dimension, complexities are expertly balanced, structure is consistent and expression is honest of terroir while processing adds creamy balance and mouthfeel
Chocolat Bonnat’s Tasting Notes: This chocolate has the fine fruity flavours of Brazilian land and the fiery character of the men who cultivate it.