Amano Artisan Chocolate.
An artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate maker from Orem, UT. The Salt Lake City area in Utah. Their name means "hand made" in Italian.
The have a solid FAQ where they explain in good detail why they do the things they do. For instance why Salt Lake City?
They answer honesty if they are Fair Trade, which they are not. And they answer if they are Kosher, which they are. They answer some really good questions about their operations and about some basics of chocolate.
Please read their FAQ here.
They even have a very detailed guide to tasting. I have had that tasting guide listed on my sidebar since I started this blog. I came across their notes in doing my own research on how to taste chocolate. It is a great read on how to taste chocolate.
This chocolate bar came to me once again by trade with my friend Emily Shartin. I was very excited because I had another go with a Madagascar bar from the Sambirano Valley.
After trying Madagascar chocolate from Rogue Chocolatier, I am happy to say that this was exciting for me. I really enjoy Madagascar beans. They are very unique, and for me at this moment in time, I find them to be the best that there is.
Amano backs up their chocolate with a single origin guarantee and how to tell if other chocolate says it is Single Origin but really not. Here is a quick list of what to look for.
-If the chocolate is labeled or marketed as a single variety bar, it does not contain chocolate from beans from other variety -- unless clearly labeled on the chocolate's packaging.
-If the chocolate is labeled or marketed as originating from a specific origin or uses the name of a particular origin, it may be assumed by the consumer that it is from that origin unless it is explicitly labeled otherwise on the chocolates package.
-If the chocolate is labeled or marketed as being from a specific variety of bean, unless specifically labeled otherwise, it will not contain any other varieties of bean.
They also discuss cross contamination as well as the effects of cocoa butter from different beans.
Amano Madagascar 70%
Lot #: 3/4/66
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans.
Bean Varietal: Venezuelan Criollo cultivated in the Sambirano Valley of Madagascar.
Type: Bittersweet 70%
Sample size: 2oz or 56g
Appearance: Very light in color. It is a dark brown, but far lighter than most bittersweet bars. Looks almost like milk chocolate. Not very shiny, slightly chalky. Good molding.
Snap: Excellent snap. Nice audible snap, clean break.
Aroma: Big rubber aroma, smokey, mild roasted bean notes, Slight hints of black pepper, mildly fruity. Rubber notes make all other aromas hard to pinpoint.
Taste: Tangy acidic notes, very delicate flavors, very mild bitterness, bright citrus notes in the beginning, slight hints of wood become present in the middle of the chocolate opening up, roasted beans, tart berries, a very slight vodka note once the berry flavors open up, but not ester-y or alcoholic hot.
Texture: Hard and bit crumbly if bitten into, very slow melt, not very creamy. Smooth melt, with zero grittiness.
This was a great bar, but overall not as good as the Rogue Madagascar bar. The rubber aroma was too dominating for other aromas to come forward. The light creamy milk chocolate appearance was fantastic, but still a little chalky looking and not shiny. I was least impressed with the texture, it's almost too hard. But being hard gave way to a great snap quality.
The flavors are delicate and much more subdued than I expected. Bright citrus flavors are to be expected with Madagascar beans, but this bar seemed like it was holding back. I still appreciated the delicate nature of this bar from it's color and taste despite all that is to be expected.
Most curious were the vodka notes again. They were present only briefly when the berry notes began to surface. This one had no boozy heat on it, but the flavor was distinctly vodka. I need to research more on what causes this effect on Madagascar beans.
Final Score: 90.4