I am not going to lie, my life is pretty good. You can't deny that fact when someone emails you and asks to send you their bars of chocolate to review. I don't care who you are or what the circumstances are, you have to admit that that makes life pretty sweet.
This chocolate comes from L'Amourette Chocolatlier in San Francisco. Andre V, a French chocolatier who worked in the research and development side of chocolate for over ten years. I don't know much else about him or his company, other than what's described on his website, but I am honored he sought me out to review his products. No word on weather he is a bean-to-bar company, but the products are handmade, kosher, vegan, and the beans are fairly traded.
Carenero is another coastal town in northern Venezuela, but more in the center of the coast closer to Caracas.
For centuries, the Carenero bean has been known for its complex, intricate flavor. In fact, due to this quality, it most often serves as a supplement to a vintage of other beans; it is often added to deepen and smooth the flavor of chocolate. We would like to bring you a bar that is made purely from Carenero— after tasting it once, you will never forget your journey to the place east of Caracas.
Click images to enlarge.
Type: Bittersweet, 75%
Bean Varietal: Unknown
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cane sugar, bourbon vanilla beans, soy lecithin.
Sample Size: 100g or 3.5oz
Appearance: Deep dark brown color and very shiny and glossy, custom signature monogrammed molding, large square tabs. A bit of some chocolate particles all over the surface.
Snap: Very weak snap due to thin molding lines and overly large tabs. It's a light crisp snap from the molding lines, but a deep hard snap when breaking the fat tabs in half with moderately clean break lines.
Aroma: Big strong aroma of wood, pen ink, berries, very sweet aroma, sugary, roasted cacao, slight hints of coffee and smoke.
Taste: Rich roasted cacao, very deep and complex, wood, berries, woody tequila notes, toasted biscuit flavors, no sharp astringency, good balance of sweetness from sugars and deeply bitter cacao.
Texture: Very silky and smooth texture, medium melt-time at first, but then opens up very creamy and soft and gives way to a medium fast melt time.
Really nice chocolate. Finally something from coastal Venezuela that isn't a charred mess. I am not quite a big fan of some of the over-roasted beans coming from coastal regions all across Northern Venezuela. I once heard the reason for this is that a lot of the farms use the same roasters, but I haven't researched enough of that to comfortably talk about that. But to me, it's become a hallmark that I can instantly recognize. This tastes like Venezuelan chocolate, but without all the interference.
Just some slight chocolate particles on the surface of the bar which probably came from transport. The molding was custom, and even though I didn't like the molding lines, it had a wonderfully deep color and very shiny surface.
It's no secret after some other reviews of late that I don't like large square tabs with weak mold lines. It gives way to a weak snap which doesn't do the chocolate justice, and the tabs are usually too hard to bite into. That was the case with this bar. But snapping the large tab did give a nice firm and quality snap, but I graded it on the mold lines.
The aroma was a nice strong aroma, but I found it to be pretty common. Lot's of similar descriptors. That doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable by any means. It just means for me in particular it was fine but nothing really spectacular. I know that sounds pretty snobbish and I assure you it is a good aroma. But with the way this tasted and those cool notes coming off the flavor, I wished more of that was on the aroma.
The taste was extremely balanced. No sharp astringency, not overly sweet and sugary. Big bold wood flavors, berries, pen ink and then an very awesome hint of aged tequila on wood barrels. It's not a dominate flavor, but definitely cool. I do wish they could extract more of that flavor. I can't tell you how happy I am to have picked up on that. This puts this chocolate in a different realm for me. Not just because of that flavor hint, but mostly because of how extraordinarily balanced it is.
I don't think I can say this is by far the best chocolate I have ever had, but I can say this is very solid and very good chocolate. It's not overly complicated, it's just good eating chocolate with some really great flavors. Nice cocoa-y flavors, interesting tequila flavors, big wood and fruit balance as well as a deep bitterness that is balanced by a good ratio of sugar.
Something worth mentioning, this bar is only be sold for $5.00 on their website. I don't know what it retails for, but that is a great price. Keep that in mind when you see it retailed. Make sure the stores are not gouging.
Excellent introduction to L'Amourette.
Final Score: 91.6