Pierre Marcolini Venezuela Hacienda Chuao 78% 89/100

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This bar is made using cocoa beans from Hacienda Chuao in Chuao village on the northern coast of the Aragua region in Venezuela. One of the most famous villages in cocoa due to the isolated growth of ancient criollo bean varieties. Once harvested these beans are processed by Pierre Marcolini in Belgium before becoming one of their Single Origin chocolate bars.

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I’ve tried Chuao chocolate from the genetic varietal grown elsewhere, the growing region and from the village itself, all with subtle differences in the flavour. There’s even differences in the flavour of Chuao cocoa from year to year of harvest. In general my experience with this cocoa suggests that it would exhibit mostly refined flavours synonymous with Venezuelan cocoa. On top of stereotypical Venezuelan refinement I’ve come to expect some red fruit, displayed in different ways it’s not always a simple case of berries, but often that is where the fruity acidity comes from. My expectations for this bar is that there be a decent balance with a good degree of refinement and some red fruit flavous and acidity, my hope is that these three attributes bring with them some harmony and a good overall quality. Opening the I’m presented with an easily identifiable Marcolini block of 3 x 3 squares and breaking off a piece reveals aromas of light cocoa with pink florals a touch of red fruit and raw nuts. Placing a piece in my mouth produces a consistent and very balanced mouthfeel, smooth in a way that makes its presence slide away to introduce plainly the flavour of the bar. To taste the bar starts out a little floral with notes of pink violets before beginning fruit and sweet flavours. This bar has strong bittersweet acidic notes of pink grapefruit and pomelo with a sweet flavour reminiscent of sugar mice that presents itself as somewhat complex, but probably more complicated. The bar expresses itself as one of the more pinker noted of the Chuao’s I’ve tried and to me it’s as confusing as it is pleasurable. It’s complex or complicated nature is in part due to the unusual but complementary mixture of flavours as well as the unusual length of varying flavours coming in spurts or bursts revealing everything from sweet to bitter to sharp to sour. The flavour while distinctive and almost characterful is a bit all over the place and hard to follow making it somewhat distracting from its more pleasant qualities. For a bar with a good degree of depth and dimension it’s pretty difficult to get along with, there’s good flavour here it’s just not presented that palatably, even though the structure and complementary tones suggest that it should in a way be more balanced and accessible. This bar is one for those who enjoy setting off on journeys of exploration, it’s challenging and to some probably worth the effort. Best enjoyed with dry rose, salted caramel, bitter coffee or comte cheese.

Ingredients: Couverture chocolate, sugar, soy lecithin

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Smooth, light grain
Mould: 3 x 3 MARCOLINI squares
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Light cocoa, pink florals, red fruit, almonds
Quality: Clear, lightly fragrant, lightly acidic

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Smooth, syrupy, glossy
Quality: Smooth, consistent, mentholated

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Pink grapefruit, pomelo
Quality: Bright flavour, bittersweet, lightly sour

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Boiled fondant, ripe fruit, grapefruit, honey
Quality: Developed, confectionary, complex, complicated

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Sweet
Notes: Floral, pink violets, pink grapefruit, raspberry, boiled fondant, cashew nut butter
Quality: Distinctive character, complex, complicated

Length 9/10

Flavours are developed and long coming through in powerful spurts, rounds come in abrupt peaks of acidity

Finish 9/10

Notes: Pink grapefruit, boiled fondant, cashew nut butter
Quality: Fruit and sweet tones make their way to the end, before a raw cashew nut butter flavour in the finish leaving a slightly sweet and dry tone to linger

Balance 8.5/10

Bar has complementary tones, but bright acidity and intense flavours dominate the experience sacrificing overt balance, medium structure provides boundaries rather than stability

Overall 9/10

Bar has depth and dimension, complexities are roughly balanced, structure is consistent, expression is true of origin with processing providing smoothness and stability, but a little detachment


Pierre Marcolini’s Tasting Notes: After a subtly bitter start, the extremely delicate fruity taste reveals perfectly balanced acidity which sustains without masking woody, structured notes. Flavours: Subtle, slightly floral, delicately spicy. Notes of caramel and fresh hazelnuts, fruity with a hint of honey.

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