Valrhona Lait Jivara 40% 82.5/100

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This dark milk bar is made using a blend of cocoa beans. 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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I’ve tried a few dark milks now and to my mind it’s only really the distinctive origins such as Madagascar or Nicaragua that really produce anything distinctive and interesting. While other origins and blends are able to produce something flavoursome and pleasant, it seems to me that many of them fall into a category of flavours that include caramel, cocoa and cream. Such is the transformation that adding milk to cocoa creates. With this bar being a blend of cocoa, it could be something different, but I’m left to suspect that this bar will represent archetypal flavours with the possibility of some smooth vanilla in the mix. Opening the bar it’s the familiar crazy paving slab of Valrhona’s and breaking a piece off reveals some almost white chocolate type aromas of sweet cocoa butter and a dairy based lactic acidity. Placing a piece in my mouth, the chocolate has a suppleness to it, with sweet buttery textures that in the end represent themselves with a confectionary tone. To taste the bar exhibits fairly archetypal flavours with cocoa, caramel and milk notes, but this bar leans in the direction of buttery notes. The dominant experience here is of chocolate buttercream, the kind you hope might be filling a fancy éclair or another fine choux pastry, it’s nice and pleasant, it’s even long and present, but it lacks any real depth, dimension or individuality in terms of cocoa expression. This bar is fairly intense and represents an improvement on most milk chocolate bars, but isn’t necessarily expressive of the possibilities of chocolate and milk combinations. One to be enjoyed with desserts and patisserie.

Ingredients: Cocoa butter, whole milk powder, sugar, cocoa beans, brown sugar, natural vanilla extract

Appearance 8/10

Colour: Pale milky brown Texture: Soft flaky fudge Mould: Valrhona crazy paving segments Snap: Soft Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9 Notes: Sweet cocoa butter, acidic clotted cream Quality: Milky, sharp

Melt/Mouthfeel 8/10

Length: Medium to long Evenness: Fairly even Texture: Buttery, thick cream, sugar paste Quality: Supple, thick, confectionary

Acidity 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 3 Notes: Cocoa butter Quality: Bold, lightly sharp

Sweetness 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 9 Notes: Buttercream, confectioners cream, caramel Quality: Bright, light

Flavour 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8 Type: Sweet Notes: Creamy, buttercream, soft cocoa, caramel, milk Quality: Bold, sweet

Length 9/10

Flavours are big bold and long rounding on the notes of cocoa butter acidity

Finish 8/10

Notes: Buttercream, caramel, milk Quality: Strong notes of buttercream fill the end, before some subtle caramel notes on the finish that leave lingering notes of milk

Balance 8.5/10

Bar is intense and boldly flavoured, but complementary and medium structure provides enough anchoring to give good balance

Overall 8/10 Bar has some depth but generally lacks dimension, relatively little complexity is well balanced, structure is consistent and expression is true of style, strongly flavoured, but not distinctly individual

 

Valrhona’s Tasting Notes: Creamy and Chocolatey: Jivara seduction lies in its pronounced cocoa notes, in perfect harmony with the vanilla and malt finish

 

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