This bar is made with beans from Madagascar. 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.
I’ve tried a few Madagascan dark milks before, but all with slighty higher cocoa percentages and all using beans from Akesson’s farms. This bar looks to contain single origin cocoa, rather than single estate and in a slightly lower percentage than I’ve come to expect from a dark milk. Madagascan dark milks tend to exhibit fairly individual flavours, with the acidity from the Madagascan cocoa tending to work in contrast with the milk, where the acidity and the fats are forced to find a complementary balance with each other, which when done well creates a kind of fruity caramel tone. My hope for this bar is that it exhibits the unusualness of mixing acidic chocolate with milk, but in doing so manages to offer as much refinement as it can. Opening the bar it’s the familiar crazy paving slab of Valrhona’s and breaking a piece off reveals very smooth creamy vanilla aromas that are reminiscent of Italian stracciatella ice cream. The aroma is confectionary like but it is rather pleasant despite its simple profile. Placing a piece in my mouth, the mouthfeel is kind of short or quick, depending on how you look at it, but it is rather smooth, creamy and refined offering a pleasant texture. To taste the bar opens with strong dulce de leche flavours that develop over the course of the melt to include caramel tones and notes of toffee towards the end. This sweetness is the dominant feature of the bar, but there is a lactic acidity that runs throughout, it’s dairy based and reminds me a lot of the kind of acidity that washed rind cheeses develop, it’s slightly sharp but in good contrast to the sweet creamy flavours being displayed. In the end this bar is a little simple and while it has depth it lacks dimension and while there is a contrast between the acidity and creaminess it’s not expressed in a particularly balanced or interesting manner, if anything this bar reminds me slightly of the caramacs of my childhood memory. This bar would be best enjoyed with similar flavoured caramel patisserie.
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa beans, dried skimmed milk, natural vanilla extract, emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavour
Colour: Pale blonding milky brown Texture: Soft vanilla fudge Mould: Valrhona crazy paving segments Snap: Soft Temp/Shine: Consistent matte
Intensity(0-10): 8 Notes: Creamy vanilla, stracciatella Quality: Smooth, confectionary
Length: Medium Evenness: Very even Texture: Smooth, creamy, buttery Quality: Refined, smooth
Intensity(0-10): 4 Notes: Milk, sweetened cream, washed cheese Quality: Sharp, balancing
Intensity(0-10): 8 Notes: Dulce de leche, caramel, soft toffee Quality: Bright, nuanced
Intensity(0-10): 9 Type: Sweet Notes: Dulce de leche, sweetened condensed milk, soft toffee Quality: Smooth, simple, sharp
Flavours are bold and long, rounding on peaks of lactic acidity
Notes: Dulce de leche, toffee Quality: Acidity leads into a caramel finish with flavours of dulce de leche and toffee that linger on long after the finish
Bar is complementary, but lacks a certain balance, sharp acidity rocks the bar a little, while intensity of flavour and sweetness unsettle and otherwise smooth and creamy bar medium structure provides some additional stability
Overall 8/10 Bar has depth, but lacks necessary dimension, very little complexity is handled acceptably, structure is consistent, expression is true of process and Madagascan cocoa adds some additional acidity, but expression is truer of style than origin
Valrhona’s Tasting Notes: Sweet and Caramelized: On the island of Madagascar are born cocoas of varieties trinitario and criollo. The Madagasy producers excel in the art of the beans’ fermentation. Tanariva reveals a balance of acidulated flavours, softened by pronounced milky caramel notes.