This bar is made using white forastero or ‘Catongo’ beans from the Bahia region of Brazil. Once harvested they’re shipped to Paris to the Manufacture de chocolat where Alain Ducasse and Nicolas Berger turn them into one of their chocolate bars.
I’ve tried a few bars from Brazil now, ones from Fazenda Sempre Ferme, ones from Fazenda Camboa and a number from Chocolat Bonnat, all with varying tendencies. Some of Brazil’s terroir seems to exhibit rich chocolate notes with nuts and caramels, archetypal chocolate flavours but expressed with refined intensity. Other parts of Brazil, however, seems to offer a fruitiness instead, mixtures of dried fruits like dates and raisins or stonefruits like cherry. These flavours aren’t a world away from each other and each expresses darker sugar notes with a sweet earthiness, but they are distinctively different. I’m inclined to believe that this cocoa might be of the fruitier variety coming from Bahia, but my main hope is that it comes through as refined as the other chocolate I’ve tried from Brazil. Opening the packaging I’m presented with a geometric ridged slab and breaking a piece off reveals aromas of cocoa and nuts with some earthy tones. Placing a piece in my mouth there’s a silky almost velvet like opening that becomes more viscose towards the end through a touch of tannin. To taste there’s grapes and cherries, but the grapes flavour also provides tannins and the cherries while floral feel a little under ripe. There’s a base woody tone and cachaça like sweetness that intermittently dips in to provide a top note. This feels like a bar of fine flavour, but one that doesn’t know what it is exactly, with white bean notes of white sugars and under ripeness and bitter notes and tannins from its forastero heritage with some fruit from the earth of its origin. Rather than ultimately complex, it comes across as a little confused although in fairness with some pleasurable characteristics. An interesting bar worth paying attention to the future harvests and a good example of the complexities of Brazilian cocoa. Best enjoyed with nutty hard cheeses, acidic olives or cachaça rums.
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar, emulsifier: non-GMO sunflower lecithin, vanilla pods, fleur de sel
Colour: Milky medium brown
Texture: Smooth, creamy
Mould: 3 x 3 MARCOLINI squares
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss
Notes: Intense cocoa, brazil nuts, earthy ferment, leather
Quality: Earthy, subtly complex, hard acidity
Texture: Silky, velvet, slick, smooth
Quality: Soft, enveloping, viscose
Notes: Red grape, cherry
Quality: Fruity, mellow, soft
Notes: Under ripe fruit, light caramel, cachaça
Quality: Bright, uplifting
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Thick skinned red grapes, under ripe cherry, cherry blossom, cachaça
Quality: Open, floral, soft, woody
Flavours are mellow and subtle, but have a long undercurrent of length stretching out under the top notes, rounds come intermittently on peaks of white acidity
Notes: Under ripe cherry, cherry blossom, cachaça, grape skin
Quality: Under ripe cherry and cherry blossom notes fill the end before a finish of white cachaça and some grape skin tannin creating a dry lingering sensation
Bar is a little uneven, but for the most part a firm medium structure provides some boundaries for flavour to play out in with soft smooth nature providing assistance
Bar has some depth and some dimension, complexities are balanced, structure is consistent and expression is true of origin with processing providing freedom, but not enough development
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse’s Tasting Notes: Grand cru: « Forastero Blanco », also known as « Catongo », carries red fruit flavours. The Single-Origin chocolate bars includes a range of 24 varieties, made with cocoa beans hailing from 12 different sources. The purity and diversity of these sources are fully expressed in the single-Origins bars, revealing the personality of each producing country and its lands.