Hotel Chocolat Vietnam 80% 84.5/100

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These beans are grown along the Mekong Delta in the south of Vietnam around Ho Chi Minh City.

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Vietnamese cocoa is pretty nuanced and varied depending on the region that it’s grown in and especially around the Mekong Delta. That said, these nuances and variations share some common themes, in general you can expect bold red fruit acidities with an earthy base and a tendency towards spicy flavours especially in the finish. I would expect something similar here and if anything, something similar to Hotel Chocolat’s Vietnamese bars of years past. Opening the bar is a bit less special than the Rabot 1745 bars and their well designed paper packaging, the moulding is simplified although the glossy chocolate work is impressive for the quantity of bars being made. Breaking off a piece reveals a deep and dark aroma of leather that opens out in to cherries and berries before a black pepper note on the end. Placing a piece in my mouth begins a slightly unusual experience, the mouthfeel feels slightly suspended or detached due to the viscosity and a light astringency to the cocoa. This distancing and astringency has a large effect on the delivery of both the sweetness and acidity, both have good flavour and they’re expressive of general Vietnamese characteristics – red fruit and an interesting effervescent sweetness – but they’re both somewhat masked by this dry detachment. Flavours run along the same lines, although there’s a notable menthol type note towards the back end of the bar and a fresh green peppercorn note that adds to a fresh spicy finish. This bar does have some positive attributes, but to my mind it’s one of the least impressive bars I’ve tried from Vietnam, but in fairness it’s also the cheapest, I’m just able to compare it to Hotel Chocolat’s Dong Nai 80%, which was much better in terms of flavour. If you’re new to Vietnamese cocoa this would be a good place to start before proceeding on to some of the more interesting and exciting bars that this origin has to offer.

Ingredients: Cocoa solids (cocoa mass, cocoa butter), organic sugar, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Smooth, light flake
Mould: Rare & vintage wave slab
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Leather, cherry, berries, black pepper
Quality: Deep, dark, acidic

Melt/Mouthfeel 8/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Lightly astringent, airy, firm
Quality: Menthol, suspended, distant

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Raspberry, cherry, mulberry
Quality: Effervescent, short

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Icing sugar, soft sherbet, lychee
Quality: Light, effervescent

Flavour 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Bitter, sweet
Notes: Lightly astringent cocoa, raspberry, cherry, mulberry, menthol, fresh green peppercorn
Quality: Dry, detached

Length 8.5/10

Flavours have a fairly long length, but struggle to peak or round, just stopping in mid air

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Jam, menthol, pepper, dry
Quality: Jammy berry tones and menthol notes make their way to the end before a dry spicy finish that leaves your mouth watering

Balance 8.5/10

This bar isn’t unbalanced, but it does lack any elegance or harmony, light astringency masks or dampens acidity and sweetness dominating the bar slightly, attributes are fairly complementary and lighter structure could offer more management

Overall 8/10

This bar has some depth, but lacks decent dimension, small amount of complexity is balanced, structure is light but consistent and expression seems honest but masked slightly with processing providing some consistency


Hotel Chocolat’s Tasting Notes: Punchy red fruits, invigorating

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