Pralus Indonesie Criollo 75% 90/100

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From the island of Java Indonesia, these cocoa beans come from criollo trees originally brought and planted by the Spanish in the 17th century. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Pralus’s manufacturing plant in Roanne, where he turns them into his world famous chocolate bars.

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I’ve tried some Indonesian cocoa before and I’ve generally found it pretty similar, with flavours of nuts and woods with a tendency towards caramels. It’s specific enough not to be archetypal, but it is close to the central essence of chocolate flavour in the same way that Venezuelan cocoa is, which probably has a lot to do with its imported genetics. My expectations for this bar are similar, I would expect something in the region of nuts, woods, caramels and a refined nature to the cacao coming from the criollo genetics. Opening the bar I’m presented with Pralus’ ubiquitous slab and cube design and breaking off a piece reveals a rich cocoa aroma with base notes of wood and tobacco, but with a distinct acidty which I wasn’t expecting. Placing a piece in my mouth, it’s noticeable how long the melt is, like the Madagascan Criollo from Pralus the chocolate lasts a lifetime giving you plenty of time to dissect the flavours. To taste there’s the initial rich woody cocoa which expands out as the long flavoured base for the cocoa, but on top there’s this soft fruity acidity in the form of rhubard and tangerine, lightly tart and citric. Towards the end the sweetness surpasses its soft fruity driven nature and opens out into patisserie custard, which only adds to the balance and the smoothness. In the end the key feature here is the balance and the smoothness of the flavour, these refined woody cocoa tones, mixed with a soft fruity acidity and a creamy sweetness offers a subtle and overtly balanced bar that’s as much to do with the criollo genetics as it is to do with the chocolatier’s processing, it’s easy to enjoy and has just enough depth and dimension to carry it through. This is a relaxed bar, one with an heir of refinement, but neither simple nor uninteresting, rather this offers something individual and interesting to go along with those archetypal chocolate flavours. One to be enjoyed when you’re looking for something, but not a lot of everything, when a relaxed balance is what you’re looking for.

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

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium to darker brown light purpling
Texture: Smooth sanded sandstone, light flake
Mould: Pralus slab and cube design
Snap: Very Crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Rich creamy cocoa, rhubarb, wood, tobacco
Quality: Rich, refined, tart

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Smooth, glossy caramel
Quality: Balanced, refined, lightly dry

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 4
Notes: Rhubarb, tangerine
Quality: Fruity, balancing, rounded

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Ripe fruit, caramel, patisserie custard
Quality: Natural, honest, developed

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Rich woody cocoa, rhubarb, tangerine, custard tart
Quality: Rich, smooth, balanced

Length 9/10

Base flavours are really long, with middle and top notes floating in and out on decent lengths, bar rounds are long on the soft acidity

Finish 9/10

Notes: Custard tart, rich woody cocoa, citrus peel
Quality: As the acidity melts away, custard tart flavours fill the end before rich woody cocoa and lightly drying citrus peel linger on after the finish

Balance 9.5/10

Bar is overtly balanced, acidity, sweetness and flavour are all complementary and help to round and balance each other out, dense structure provides plenty stability

Overall 9/10

Bar has some depth and some dimension, small amount of complexity is easily balanced, structure is consistent, expression seems honest and transparent, processing provides balance and stability

Pralus’ Tasting Notes: Fresh and subtle, woody aroma with wild mushrooms, slightly acidic and long on the finish

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