October 8, 2005

Vintage Plantations – Arriba 75% 2004 – review – Hans-Peter Rot

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Written by: Hans-Peter Rot

Already, this bar shows a more promising start than its higher percentage kin. It looks more uniform and smoother, flaunting a flat and even surface, without any unsightly marks. However, once the bar comes into complete focus, one notices a rather opaque and cloudy appearance as if excess cocoa butter was added ala Hachez. The dark purplish hue is still visible, but only through clouds. However, the aroma is great and easy to detect; it’s powerful with the blackberries along with a commanding undertone of coffee and subtle hints of cinnamon, a combination that never fails and indeed injects new life into this listless slab.

The chocolate wastes no time with introductions and gets right down to business. Highly floral and also sharply fruity with acidic blackberries, the chocolate plows right through with a wonderful combination of flavors turned up to high. Meanwhile, the intense undertone of coffee that makes this cacao so strong is also front and center, making for a full throttle experience indeed. Woody cinnamon spikes occur as well, but after these settle down, the profile is pretty much saturated in blackberries and an unshakable semblance of burnt coffee, which is perhaps suggestive of a batch of heavily roasted beans mixed in somewhere.

Texture meanwhile is rough and dry, making for a very coarse and rugged feel to a flavor that already seems somewhat wild and out of control at times. The constant burnt tone to the chocolate certainly suggests that even at a “”lower”" percentage, there has been some excessive roasting to compensate for an insufficient ferment. However, the resulting combination of flavors actually turns out to be quite acceptable, even enjoyable, yet one cannot readily bestow praise to slovenly work. Plantations can breathe a sigh of relief with this lucky break since Arriba is probably the only cacao for which poor processing can work in favor, or at least result in a neutral outcome. Overall, the bar shows signs of promise yet it’s still a very young chocolate that reflects inexperience with its handling. But who knows, maybe with practice, this chocolate could be great.

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Hans-Peter Rot



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