Sunday, May 05, 2013

Valrhona Chocolate

Valrhona is one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world.  They make consumer products like basic chocolate bars (including not just single origin bars, but single origin vintage bars!), but also supply the chocolate for many chocolatiers and the bulk chocolate and couverture for chefs worldwide.  Thus, Valrhona chocolate shows up just about everywhere, and I've reviewed it before when used by pastry chefs (like Terri Wu from Farallon), by other chocolatiers (like Chocolat Modern), and even by ice cream shops (like Scream sorbet).  I'm sure you've had it, even if you haven't purchased a bar directly.

Although they operate a huge scale, the chocolate is high quality.

Grand Crus Tasting Bars

This is a line "made from the harmonious blending of cocoa beans from plantations with exceptional terroirs and chosen for their particular flavor characteristics."

The Grand Crus selection ranges from 33% milk chocolate to 72% dark chocolate.  I've tried a number of the different blends.

Milk Chocolates

Jivara 40% Tasting Square.
Jivara 40%. "Creamy and Chocolatey"

Milk chocolate is rarely what I pick, but, I was given this little square, so I tried it.  It was a smooth, creamy, high quality milk chocolate.  If I liked milk chocolate in general, I'm sure I would have really enjoyed it.  Even not being a milk chocolate lover I was able to appreciate it for its creamy, delicate nature.

Dark Chocolates

Noir Caraibe, 66%.

Manjari, 64%, Madegascar.  "Fresh and Tangy Single Origin Madagascar".

I moved on to a darker chocolate.  This was creamy for dark chocolate, but not very complex, a bit sweet.  Which makes sense, given that it was only a 64% bar.

Tainori 64%, Dominican Republic.

Next, another 64%.  I liked this one a lot more.  It was very smooth, but with a remarkably fudgy finish.  I'm used to chocolate with a strong fudgy nature like this having a thicker mouthfeel, but it had a nice snap to it and was really clean.  Definitely quality chocolate!

Noir Caribe, 66%. "Balanced and Velvety"
Moving up slightly to a 66%.  This was also incredibly smooth, great snap to it.  Slightly sweet, no bitterness.  A very clean flavor.

Guanaja, 70%, South African. "Bittersweet and Elegant".

Moving up another notch to a 70%.  It too was very smooth, and had a great flavor.  It is clear that Valrhona is a quality chocolate maker!

Single Origin Vintage Bars

Valrhona also produces a number of Single Estate Chocolates Bars, and of course, I've tried many of those as well.  They are all 64% cocoa.
2010 Palmira Vintage Bar.
    • Ampamakia, 64%, 2012 Vintage, Madagascar. Had a nice bitterness with sweet cherry finish. I liked how you first got hit by the bitterness you expect from a dark chocolate, but then it had the nice sweet finish too it, making it a fairly complex tasting experience.
    • Gran Couva, 64%, 2012 Vintage, Trinidad. This one was very smooth and refined, but too much so, resulting in a bar that wasn't very complex or interesting. Sorta like a house wine or coffee, totally drinkable, but boring.  I know that sounds horrible given its status, but, that is how I felt!
    • Palmira, 64%, 2010 Vintage, Venezuela. We all liked this.  It had a pleasant bitterness and nice mouthfeel.
    • Porcelana, 64%, 2012 Vintage, Venezuela. Apparently made from some of the rarest cocoa beans in the world. Was fairly sweet, with blueberry or plum notes.
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