May 28, 2005

Michel Cluizel – Hacienda ‘Los Anconès’ – review – Anne Bramley

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Written by: annebramley

I love to love Michel Cluizel’s ‘Los Anconès’. This single-plantation Caribbean origin bar truly epitomizes the idea of a complex and sophisticated chocolate. While I think it’s the sort of bar that would appeal to connoisseurs of other intriguing and multifaceted foods – Tête de Moine cheese, a perfectly ripe mango, or something Fat Duck like smoked bacon and egg ice cream – its lack of bitterness one associates with a fine chocolate makes it the ideal bar for chocolate novices and those who think they don’t like dark chocolate. This is perhaps in part because of the cocoa butter content slightly below 70%, but that just the tip of the cocoa nib. There’s much more to this story.

First there’s the disjunction between appearance and “”mouthfeel”": a sandier coloring belies this bar’s smooth texture and thick melt. Next, comes the surprising tastes and smells. Scents of hay and artichoke anticipate the delightful green olive taste the manufacturer describes on the package – but a delightfully fresh Picholine, not a hackneyed cocktail Manzanilla. Rather than seeking other flavors in place of the olive, I simply reveled in it. Even on my fifth go-round with this bar, the initial scent was so wonderfully different from other chocolate bars that I found myself exclaiming aloud about it.

This bar is really one of my favorites for the complexity of taste and the smoothness of the texture. To appropriate the language of wine, this bar is a refreshing Viognier to the usual run of 70% Zins and Cabs. And in the whisky world it is the Island malt in a sea of Highlanders. Which is to say, if you love a challenging crisp white wine or 10-year-old Talisker, this is also the chocolate for you. I can’t say enough good things about it.

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