October 7, 2005

Santander – 65% – review – Hans-Peter Rot

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Written by: Hans-Peter Rot

Visually, the bar is actually quite impressive, bearing no defects whatsoever and showing a great sheen and color that unlike the 70% is much lighter but red nonetheless, approaching magenta due to the extra sugar. Aroma, too, varies from the boldness and cocoa intensity from its stronger brother, but it seems more controlled and balanced, presenting a honey or brown sugar sweetness, coupled with fruits that reflect the color of the wrapper: tangerines, mangoes, and other assorted yellowish oranges. For a Colombian this is disconcerting.

But all worries quickly dissipate. The flavor is cheery and delightful like the 70%, just toned down to pastels and presented in an orange and yellow veil hiding red. First is a ubiquitous tone of marshmallow leading to underscores of coffee, then a subdued cherry cordial note melds with stronger elements of mango, honey, and almonds for an overall oddball flavor that ironically works well and fluently, never coming off as bellicose or cloying. The progression is neat and orderly, tied together by familiar flavors. Texture is more or less the bar’s obvious negative, a distinct contrast to the more refined natures of European bars. Fudge-like and not wholly creamy, yet smooth and not at all dry, the consistency isn’t the most desirable, but it certainly evokes no major concern.

In fact, the bar as a whole may not seem like a typical Colombian Nacional, but classic features do stick out as telltale evidence that the chocolate is indeed true to its heritage. It’s sort of a pastel representation of the origin, reflecting its wrapper in terms of flavor, but doing so with vigor and strength rather than a low-key interplay this range usually employs. Never cloying either, it’s a perfectly balanced chocolate that knows its limits and apparently its place, since it never comes off as pretentious, always remaining childlike and jolly. If there are two points to take home from this bar (and the whole range, in fact) it’s that Santander obviously has some interesting and quality cacao, and that they know exactly what to do with it.

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Hans-Peter Rot



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