This makes an interesting comparison with Amedei’s Porcelana. While Amedei’s offering seems wild and variable – only just on the edge of an acceptable chocolate taste, Domori have produced a more stable version that is at once both high and exotic, while retaining a fundamental chocolate flavour. Sit back, enjoy and wish that all chocolate were this good …


Reviews

Alex Rast: 25-Feb-2012

Posted: February 25, 2012 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8 10%
Look/snap: 8 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 9.5 5%
Length: 7 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 82.50 100%
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

A review with a purpose, and an urgent one. Domori releases a new batch of their flagship Porcelana, along with all the other bars in their line, coming with a package revamp. Unfortunately, the flavour also seems to have come with an unwelcome revamp, thanks to new processing. This should be a call to action for Domori: the new process has a serious problem, and needs to be fixed immediately.

Out of the wrapper, there are already alarming signs of divergence from what has for many years been the reference standard for Porcelana. The bar is dark, not the usual light colour one expects, but with an almost burnt-umber colour. Even though finish is virtually free from blemishes, this darkness is both worrisome and calls into doubt whether even the same beans are being used. What’s going on?

Aroma is also very, very different from the delicacy of previous Porcelana vintages: this one is powerful and spicy, with pepper and cinnamon dominating. Hints of rubber and coffee seem more in character with a Forastero: surely not! But the aroma is certainly more similar to Domori’s more standard “Cru” line, especially to the Sambirano. Something very odd is happening here. This isn’t the Porcelana we’ve grown to love.

However initially the flavour is completely reassuring, and indeed makes clear that yes, this is definitely Porcelana, starting with a fruity mix of strawberry and tropical. But then it all goes awry, turning to nutty and then becoming progressively darker, coffee and cocoa dominating with an overwhelmingly coffee finish. The culprit is clear: the roast is much darker than previous batches, and in this darkness erases much of the character of the Porcelana bean whose delicacy is literally everything. Texture isn’t a problem, nor does one expect this with Domori; it’s as smooth and creamy as ever, that is to say, near-perfect.

So what’s happened to the process? The situation, as this reviewer is given to understand, is that without other changes, Domori has recently installed an infra-red “pre-roaster”. Its effects on the Porcelana are manifest, and damaging. Pre-roast is causing overroast, when married to an identical final roasting process. Indeed, what else could Domori have expected? Clearly any process such as IR that subjects the beans to a heat radiation source is bound to cause a net increase in effective roast, all other factors remaining the same, and thus if nothing else, if they are committed to this step, then the final roast must be suitably reduced. However, the outcome might still diverge. What Domori is doing here is simply reducing the potential of one of the finest chocolates the world has seen.

Surely Domori has noticed the difference in internal taste tests? If not, this should be a message to them: the flavour has changed, definitely for the worse. Now, let us be clear: the flavour isn’t bad: it’s still an excellent chocolate. But it’s not a great chocolate, as it has always been up until now. Maybe Domori has reasoned that the chocolate is almost as good as before, with a process that confers certain unspecified benefits. But this is the first step down the slippery slope from greatness to mediocrity. With a truly great, uncompromising, top-of-the-line product such as Porcelena, the first compromise, the first tradeoff of almost-as-good for convenience, starts a downward trend, and now the next subtle step downward seems easier to justify, particularly if nobody remembers what it was once like, and before long a sequence of such steps gradually erodes away product quality until what one has left is only a tragic parody of a a once-great product. With Porcelana, in particular, which is Domori’s flagship product and which above all others should brook no compromise whatsoever, there is no way this can go uncommented or unfixed. If Domori persists with this new style without fixing the problems, then inevitably its unique position, style, and reputation will disappear, and it will only end up being a small company competing with much larger, much more well-financed industrial concerns for the mid-grade premium chocolate market. This is a competition it will probably lose. And the world will lose its only first-rate exemplar of Porcelana bean chocolate.

Hans-Peter Rot: 6-Oct-2005

Posted: October 6, 2005 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 9 35%
Melt: 9.5 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 9.5 30%
Total/100: 90.5 100%
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Though Domori’s bars usually suffer in appearance due to minimal processing, Porcelana has obviously received top priority. The bar is truly a sight for sore eyes, radiating with a beautiful sheen that reflects a rusty shade of orange. The aroma continues to build excitement with a simple yet luxurious theme of strawberries and cream, which is underscored by an intriguing bread-like component. At this point, it’s virtually impossible not to fall in love with the chocolate before tasting it!

The chocolate immediately starts the show on the purest and one of the most awe inspiring flavors the word “chocolate” should embody. This chocolatiness doesn’t relent either, instead gushing its contents ever stronger as strawberries and cream add a strong sense of the sophisticate and never crowd the palate with complexity. Indeed, with such a refined flavor that speaks purely and boldly of the Porcelana bean, who could possibly want more? It’s like looking through the clearest crystal and seeing only perfection. Domori has successfully delivered the best interpretation of this varietal, capturing its notes loudly with a perfect balance that was probably achieved by a breaching of philosophy.

Just about the only semblance to Domori’s usual style is the texture, which is super smooth and creamy. Not to discredit the bean, this smoothness can also be attributed to the innate characteristics of the cacao itself, which always has a topnotch texture. It’s apparent that Domori knew exactly what they were dealing with and decided to tread carefully with this gentle cacao. There are no fermented notes, no uncontrolled acidity, no wild intensity levels, or any other irregularities that ruin the chocolate. Like Beethoven’s “”Für Elise,”" the chocolate is simple yet beautiful, unfolding soft and delicate notes in a procession of gentility that could hardly convey the same sensation if altered with complexity. Both resonate through the senses with sheer complacency and send you melting into total relaxation.

Alex Rast: 6-Oct-2005

Posted: October 6, 2005 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 9.5 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 91 100%
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The bar that started the Porcelana craze. And completely worth the hype. Indisputably Domori’s finest chocolate and a textbook exemplar of its varietal. Delicate, subtle, a beautiful chocolate. A worthy anchor at the top of the line of one of the best chocolate manufacturers in the world.

Unwrapping this bar yields a gorgeous, deep red-brown tablet, at least once you get past the annoying plastic inner seal. Domori really should jettison the plastic which besides being a pain to open tends to release odours into the contents. Nonetheless, the bar itself has a near-mirror finish of a perfect temper. A few mould bubbles suggest more a slightly artisan character to the process than they do carelessness.

Aroma is an interesting mix – there’s a decided smell of buttered toast, very alluring if one might say so, along with a whiff of coffee and a vague, strawberry/cherry fruitiness. It’s like waking up to breakfast. The flavour is perhaps the purest “”Criollo”" flavour ever elaborated in a chocolate. Initially there’s a saturated yet delicate taste of utterly fresh strawberries and cream, and then a suggestion of cherry. There’s also a darker harmonic here – something a bit like brown sugar but with a very slight, bitter edge, not anything at all harsh yet enough to sustain interest. Texture, too, is per the Domori standard of excellence – it’s ultra-smooth and exceptionally creamy.

The bar really stands out in its delicacy, a very feminine chocolate that, without seeming to need the power of bolder chocolates, effortlessly overcomes one’s will to resist. It’s a chocolate that literally makes you feel pampered and happy. And this is what Porcelana is supposed to be – the essence of lightness, the definition of subtlety in chocolate. Domori shows the world what to do with this bean.

Martin Christy: 5-Sep-2003

Posted: September 5, 2003 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 9.5 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 8 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 90.25 100%
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The colour of this chocolate is a long way from the ‘black’ of some lesser bitter chocolates – you might well mistake it for milk at first glance. The snap is very solid, revealing a red-flecked granite roughness with the odd bubble.

The aroma is so distinctive here I’m tempted to call it just ‘porcelana’, but it could be described as a combination of caramel, red wine, exotic fruit and tobacco, with a deep underlying tone, which is just too hard to name, but maybe leather and honey would come closest.

At first the taste is acid/lime with liquorice, but on the first bite the true pedigree of this chocolate shines through in a sudden flood of intense honey, caramel, on the edge of ‘umami’ – again that hard to pin down ‘porcelana’ taste. A little thick in the mouth, but this does not linger. Towards the end the flavours resolve into chocolate loveliness, without the slightest hint of burning or other mistreatment of the beans. The length is lime with a slight cheese sourness, but steady all the same.

A high chocolate indeed, you will forget this is a strong 70% chocolate without any added cocoa butter – this is chocolate honey.



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