Pralus Madagascar Criollo 75% 87.5/100


This bar is made using cocoa harvested from Ambanja, in the Sambirano Valley from an area rich in Criollo trees. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Pralus’s manufacturing plant in Roanne, where he turns them into his world famous chocolate bars.


I’ve had criollos from Madagascar before and they’ve been amongst some of the best chocolate I’ve tried. They exhibit fruity berry like flavours like their trinitario neighbours, but they’re less powerfully acidic and more refined, exhibiting instead a roundedness and balance that helps to improve the rebelliousness of Madagascan trinitarios. I’m hoping for more of the same here, expressive berry fruit, but with a balanced and with a refined side coming from the criollo genetics. Opening this bar I’m not disappointed, there’s the usual powerful and rigid Pralus chocolate work and breaking a piece off there’s a complex and fragrant aroma of the usual suspects, cocoa, berries and hints of earth and balsamic. Placing a piece in my mouth there’s a noticeably long and firm melt that helps the chocolate to last an absolute age, from here though it’s a little unusual. Some of the flavours are slightly muted or short and rather than the usual overt fruitiness of a Madagascan instead there’s a subtle set of sweet and malty flavours that have a long but soft presence. Beyond an underwhelming berry acidity that expresses some slightly alcoholic tendencies there’s this unusual familiarity with uszatki – a polish sugared gingerbread cookie flavoured with mint – which I’d had recently on a trip to warsaw, malty, sweet, spiced and with a minty undertone, not flavours I’d traditionally associate with Madagascan chocolate. These flavours have a refinement and are soft and smooth providing plenty of balance with notes of cream helping them round the bar out, but it’s an unusual expression for this cocoa. I was expecting something more overt, something fruitier with a more refined and expressive acidity, but here we have a bit of a black swan, the bar exhibits positive tendencies, just unusual ones. A subtle long length and some smooth and strongly anchored balanced help to give this bar some finesse, but in the end I’m left more confused than impressed. For something interesting and for fans of smooth malted flavours, this bar presents something intriguing, although I’m not sure it matches up to the quality of some of its Madagascan criollo competition.

Ingredients: Cocoa, sugar, pure cocoa butter, GMO free soya lecithin

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium milky brown
Texture: Dry creamy fudge
Pralus slab and cube design
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Refined cocoa, sweet berries, sweet grape pomace, tobacco/balsamic
Quality: Complex, sweet, fragrant

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long, firm
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Malty, glossy, firm
Quality: Dense, highly consistent, smooth

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 4
Notes: Berry, liqueur
Quality: Rounding, a little short

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Berry jam, liqueur, malted caramel
Quality: Developed, balancing

Flavour 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Refined malty cocoa, berry jam, cream, uszatki
Quality: Distinctive, unusual, soft

Length 9/10

Malted flavours are long and cocoa is subtle but length, acidity is relatively short but helps peak the rounds, sweetness carries as an undertone

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Uszatki, cream, malt
Quality: Sweet spiced minty tones fill the end before cream and malt takeover to provide a smooth exit to the flavour

Balance 9/10

Bar has an unusual balance, sweet malty tones seem to dominate, but they also provide the balance with creamy notes rounding out the balance, heavy structure provides plenty of anchoring

Overall 8.5/10

Bar has some depth and also some dimension, some complexity is smoothly balanced, structure is consistent, expression seems unusual but not dishonest processing provides stability

Pralus’ Tasting Notes: Single plantation chocolate, fresh nose, slightly minty and fruity, delicate, acidic on the finish


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