New product alert for me. And thank god it's a company who likes to include all the information. I can't tell you how amazing it is to be able to click on a product and have all of the information there. No one has beaten the level of information Taza Chocolate provides, but this is pretty good information here.
Unlike most chocolates made in Ecuador, Columbia, or Venezuela that tout themselves as “Farmer’s chocolates,” Vintage Plantations is an independent company. Not having to satisfy outside investors allows us to prioritize the quality of our products over the size of the bottom line.
The Mission: To support the small chocolate industry in countries where the chocolate originates by re-designing the cocoa commodity chain, thereby aiding farmers to adopt better farm management practices, protect the environment, ensure crops are free of harmful chemicals, and maximize their income in order to encourage the farmers’ optimal re-investment in the development of high-quality chocolate. The post-harvest cocoa processing is done in the country of origin, hence our seal (P.I.C.O. – Produced In Country of Origin) and we minimize the carbon footprint by eliminating unnecessary shipping.
The Challenge: We make chocolate in cooperation only with entities willing to follow the Rainforest Alliance Guidelines, and we train them to achieve very high standards of quality. We only support small farmers and league with local small enterprises in both Ecuador and the USA for all services needed to run our company.
We selected among three roasters to find the Ecuadorian partner which had the finest equipment to convert all the work we had done on fermentation into a ground liquor without losing any of the organoleptic qualities we had so carefully developed during cocoa bean fermentations. Since we have established this process for creating very high quality chocolates, we are proud to say that 17 new chocolate companies have sprung up in Ecuador, Venezuela, and Columbia following our footsteps. Vintage Plantations pioneered the renewal of artisan, batch chocolate making.
We have reconfigured chocolate making — from beans to bars — by requiring best farming and business practices in accordance with the Rainforest Alliance Guidelines. Moreover, we strive to balance the profit at every stage of the commodity chain between farmer and consumer, in order to make it more sustainable for all actors, thereby bringing added value to the chocolate in your hand.
The Result: Our model aims to protect you, the consumer, from the degradation of chocolate quality that is often the consequence of the single-minded pursuit of meeting “profit benchmarks” in major confectionery and chocolate industrial groups. Our products are made only from fermented, native original Vintage cocoa beans and honor the local flavor of the plantations, each harvest, and the distinctiveness of beans from one farm to another.
In order to get back to the vintage chocolate process of yesteryears, we had to design a new commodity chain, where only parties contributing to enhancing the quality of the end product were invited to join; those merely seeking profit from the current market imbalances were left out. The savings derived from circumventing the usual players were passed along to the farmer and re-invested in the development of the farms.
At Vintage Plantations, we have the unique perspective of having forged this standard of chocolate making from beginning, including several trials and unsuccessful partnerships from which we have been able to perfect and further develop our process. The end result, we are proud to say, is the first chocolate made with the farmer, offering you a“Vintage” chocolate of the highest quality.
Click the About link to find out more about their history and the Rainforest Alliance.
Made of 100% shaded Ecuadorian cocoa varietal "Nacional" – a classified "fine flavor cocoa". Its flavor is smooth, nutty, with a long dominant chocolate note and no bitterness or acidity. To transmit the purest flavor, we did not add any vegetable fat nor vanilla covering aroma. Our chocolate bars have a high content of cocoa solids, less cocoa butter fat and a lower glycemic index. The cocoa beans are roasted slowly to preserve the high antioxidant levels of pure cocoa.
Vintage Plantations' mission is to safeguard heirloom cocoa varietals, encourage sustainable shade cocoa cultivation methods preserving the rain forest, and guarantee a fair price for cacao farmers.
This project is the coordinated effort of Vintage Plantations with the Rainforest Alliance, a conservation organization dedicated to implement better business practices for biodiversity, conservation and sustainability and “Conservacion y Desarrollo,” the Rainforest Alliance’s partner in Ecuador which audits the sustainable cocoa certification program. Vintage Plantations develops the chocolate and guarantees heirloom traceability from the farmer to you. Together we plan to protect the shaded Cocoa plantations.
By buying our bars, you support the farmers directly, help preserve shaded native cocoa varietal in Ecuador and safeguard the Ecuadorian rain forest.
|Product Weight||3.5 oz. / 100 g|
|No Added Aroma(s)||Yes|
|Soy Lecithin Free||No|
|Certified by the Rainforest Alliance||Yes|
As mentioned in another review, I have to preface this review with the unusual circumstances this bar found itself in. I reviewed this last year, or took pictures and notes on it and put the notes away until now. This bar has a very slight appearance of bloom appearance because I found this bar hiding in a drawer. While it was far from expired or past it's prime, the storage conditions were not exactly optimal. Having said that, this bar has held up remarkably well. Stored in plastic, it has upheld an amazing aroma and still has a very glossy surface. Just some slight beginnings of dusting and some superficial plastic matting marks. For the sake of honest reviewing I am informing my readers of a mistake in storage. Although it really hasn't effected this bar in any serious sort of way, I will not be deducting points for the presence of slight bloom.
Type: Bittersweet, 65%
Bean Varietal: Nacional
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, soy lecithin.
Sample Size: 100g or 3.5oz
Appearance: Simple non-monogrammed tablet, glossy finish, deep rich brown color, almost a hint of particle detection in the surface, minor scuffs and plastic wrapper matting on the surface and some slight beginnings of sugar bloom.
Snap: Good firm snap, dull and low thud snapping sound, moderately clean break lines.
Aroma: Big full robust aroma, very perfume-y. Right out of the package it smelled like rich cream and butter, almonds, coconuts, and deep red wine aromas. After it aired out a bit it still maintained a big aroma and became more floral and soft. The snap gave way to some added red wine aromas.
Taste: Sweet, earthy, flowery, fruity, coconuts, nutty, wood, deep bitters, no astringency, a little bit oak-y and flowery jasmine at the same time on the finish through retro-olfaction, some clean laundry-like flavors, hints of coffee, lingering pen ink and wood flavors.
Texture: Smooth and glossy surface, a little chewy, creamy, medium melt-time, drying effect on the palate.
A lot to think about with this chocolate. Some minor surface issues, and a medium snap quality aside, the aroma was huge and so was the flavor on this bar. The ingredients claim no added aromas or vanilla. Very complex aroma with deep red wine aromas, and a creamy butter aroma right out of the package. Hugely floral, with some coconut and almonds and nicely roasted cacao.
But the taste was complex. So much going there. Deep, rich wood flavors, complexly bitter, no astringency, and wonderful earthy coconut and nutty flavors mixed with clean flowery jasmine and perfumed clean laundry flavors. I know that sounds weird, but if you have ever smelled your dryer exhaust with big scented dryer sheets in there, then you know what I am talking about. Some interesting hints at the end of coffee and pen ink to round it out and complete a bizarre range of almost all flavors of South American Beans. All that's missing is the overly charred coastal region flavors.
Very complex and complicated flavors. I liked this quite a bit. The only thing I didn't care for was that drying effect once again. It's becoming a hallmark of Nacional beans. I don't know if anyone else notices it, but I am really not a fan of it. The other textures of the chocolate were just fine though. It wasn't rock hard, it wasn't waxy and it wasn't too soft. It melted just slow enough to really sit back and think about this chocolate and allow each one of it's bold characters to come out.
Final Score: 92