Manufaktura Czekolady Venezuela Criollo Porcelana 70% 90/100

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Porcelana or white criollo (different from white nacional) grows south west of Lake Maracaibo in the Venezuelan region of Zulia and is considered to be one of the best varieties of cacao. Porcelana beans grow white rather than the purple and brown hues we traditionally associate with cacao beans due to the absence of the flavonoid anthocyanin, which is responsible for the purple colour. This absence of anthocyanin is responsible for the lack of bitterness in fine white criollo chocolate, which makes it highly desirable in terms of flavour. This lack of anthocyanin and Porcelana’s ancient heritage come at a cost however, with ancient white criollo strains being susceptible to pests and disease, thankfully though Venezuela has never shyed away from growing vulnerable, low yielding, but flavourful cacao strains. With less than a 1000kg of this Porcelana produced every year it makes every Porcelana bar made a rarity. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Warsaw where Christopher Stypułkowski and Thomas Sienkiewicz turn them into one of Manufaktura’s chocolate bars.

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I’ve tried a few bars made from Porcelana cacao and my initial impressions were of some soft red fruit with some intense and rich cocoa notes, but more recently I’ve been adjusting to expect a lighter tone and some more delicate and elegant notes, especially where the roast is light. In terms of this bar I’m expecting something honest, Manufaktura’s approach seems to be fairly hands off when it comes to producing their bars and so I’m expecting some clear Porcelana flavours, presenting themselves in line with the roast that has been selected. Opening the bar, it’s the familiar silver sealed packet of chocolate that once opened reveals another of Manufaktura’s rough aesthetics, but what it does show is a medium dark brown hue that has a milky whiteness to it. I’m making a guess at a medium roast and so I would expect something light but also developed. Breaking a piece off I’m presented with refined cocoa aromas with light floral red fruits and a hint of balsamic ferment. It’s got me leaning in the direction of something between the two general profiles. Placing a piece in my mouth, this bar has a fairly unrefined mouthfeel, it’s a grainy texture which suggests the beans have been ground but not been through a refiner, what positives come from the mouthfeel here appear to be from the beans themselves. While grainy the texture still maintains a smoothness, which I would expect from a Porcelana and it reminds me a lot of a Lotus caramelized biscuit. To taste this theme continues with the bar opening with caramelized biscuit notes before fruity mulberry flavours make their way in. In general the profile is soft and light, with flavours reminiscent of unroasted bars or at the very least lightly roasted ones. There’s an impression towards the middle and end of the bar of a white biscuit cream like you would find in an oreo, it’s a confectionary flavour, but with a refined feel. This light and soft tone allows for a subtle but long length with an easy going, but elegant balance. For me this appears to be a fairly original expression for Porcelana cacao, but one that’s in line with the attributes of the bean, it seems particularly honest, but I’d be curious to the flavour of these beans with additional development. If you’re interested by Porcelana beans and you’ve tried a couple of Porcelana bars already then this bar is a very interesting prospect in terms of Porcelana expression. One for enjoying beside a light honeyed whisky.

Ingredients: Cocoa, sugar

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium milky brown
Texture: Rough limestone
Mould:
Unrefined 5×3 blocks
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Refined cocoa, lightly floral red fruits, redcurrants, rosehips, light sweet balsamic ferment
Quality: Refined, elegant

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Medium to long
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Soft caramelized biscuit (lotus), smooth, grainy
Quality: Unrefined, smooth, consistent

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 4
Notes: Mulberry, soft lime
Quality: Fruity, light, soft

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Notes: Caramelized biscuit, lychee, white biscuit cream
Quality: Smooth, Light, soft

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet
Notes: Caramel biscuit, mulberry, white biscuit cream, white strawberry, light rose
Quality: Balanced, elegant, soft

Length 9/10

Flavours are soft and subtle but they are long, rounding with peaks of fruit

Finish 9/10

Notes: Mulberry, white biscuit cream, almond butter
Quality: Fruity notes of mulberry make their way wistfully to the end with a finish of sweet white biscuit cream and lingering but fairly clean almond butter aftertaste

Balance 9.5/10

Soft and light nature of this bar helps it easily into a floaty balance with medium structure doing very little work to provide stability

Overall 9/10

Bar while soft has some depth and there’s a nuanced dimension, complexities are easily managed and structure is consistent, expression feels honest and individual but intentionally underdeveloped, processing has taken a very hands off approach to this bar

 


Manufaktura Czekolady’s Tasting Notes: Mild, buttermilk, caramel, nuts

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