Valrhona Alpaco Noir 66% 86/100

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This bar is made with beans from Ecuador. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Le Harve and then driven to Tain-l’Hermitage, part of the Rhone Valley, an area particularly famous for growing wine, where Valrhona turn them into one of their Grand Cru chocolate bars. 

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My experience of Ecuadorian cocoa tends to be one of classic chocolate flavours that are well presented. A mixture of chocolateyness and cocoa flavours mixed with caramels and the possibility of lemon, milk and nuts. I think this experience might be more precisely of Ecuador as a country wide origin or of arriba cacao, as I have tried a few bars, which break from this mould and display more individual characteristics. My expectations here are that this might be one of the more traditionally flavoured bars with refined chocolate flavours and my hope is that this bar displays something individual to express alongside these archetypal flavours. Opening the bar it’s the familiar crazy paving slab of Valrhona’s and breaking a piece off reveals mild aromas of smooth cocoa and a floral spice tone reminiscent of kaffir lime and caraway. Placing a piece in my mouth, this chocolate offers a bright mouthfeel that’s honeyed and juicy with a slightly glossy feel. To taste this bar is generally light with a sunny sweet tone that reminds me of some Costa Rican coffees and honey nut breakfast cereals. There’s toasted honey notes that mix with soft white fruit notes and a nutty wheat tone producing a bar with sunny sweet and toasted flavours. Good displays of length and balance along with an interesting ginger heat note in the finish help to make this bar approachable, accessible and enjoyable. This is an easy going bar that manages to maintain a distinctive flavour without feeling too processed, definitely one for fans of roasted or toasted notes in their bars. Best enjoyed fresh baked crusty bread or aged oaky white wines.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural vanilla extract

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium roasted brown
Texture: Polished sandstone
Mould: Valrhona crazy paving segments
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Smooth cocoa, kafir lime, caraway
Quality: Subtle, simple, soft

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Honeyed, juicy, glossy
Quality: Refined, bright

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Vanilla, honeydew melon, blanched pear
Quality: Fruity, sunny, light

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Toasted honey, caramel
Quality: Bright, light, rounded

Flavour 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet
Notes: Wood, toasted honey wheat, honey roasted peanuts, honeydew melon, vanilla
Quality: Smooth, sunny

Length 8.5/10

Flavours are subtle, but stretch out for a fair length rounding slowly with sweet fruit notes

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Toasted honey, honeydew melon, vanilla, ginger biscuits
Quality: Honey toasted notes fill the end with honeydew melon and vanilla making their presence known in the finish, leaving ginger spice notes and heat to linger

Balance 8.5/10

Bar has a soft and light nature with bright and fruity sweet notes, which under a firm structure provide a complementary balance

Overall 8.5/10

Bar has some depth and a fair amount of dimension, small amount of complexity is well balanced, structure is consistent, expression seems individual, but processing and roast have noticeable hands in the development of flavour adding toasted wood notes and vanilla smoothness in the finish


Valrhona’s Tasting Notes: Oaky and floral: The subtle floral aromas of Alpaco melt exquisitely into supremely intense chocolaty notes.

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