Excellent and characteristic Ecuador but with room for improvement as well. Not, perhaps, quite so accomplished as the best of Guittard’s line, unable to shake off a slightly flat, definitely bitter edge. However, it reveals the classic flavours of the Ecuador Arriba very well and for that deserves praise.
Alex Rast: 9-Dec-2005
Guittard is absolutely right in describing this bar as “”very dark”". It’s almost black, but with superb surface finish – so that on the whole it’s like a slab of polished ebony. Attractive but intimidating.
Aroma is similarly somewhat intimidating, very dark indeed. It’s quite woody, too, and one might well be forgiven if one though one had an ebony tile. There’s also a pungency, something like cloves, or perhaps smoked chipotle with its roasty/spicy character. A smooth tobacco offsets all these challenging aromas, and thus if it isn’t completely balanced, it’s not one-sided either.
The initial flavour is very promising indeed, powerful chocolatey like the best of Guittard’s chocolates. Guittard seems to have mastered roast and ferment to get this effect, particularly in the mid-percentage chocolates, and for that alone it deserves ranking among the very best chocolatiers. Soon, however, the archetypal blackberry flavour of Arriba seeps through, welcome in this case although with any other bean it might be cause for alarm. It doesn’t end there, though, because unfortunately the flavour sags into a flat, bitter woodiness. The blackberry evolves into raisin characteristics, but the bitterness really wipes things out and brings the flavour ride to an abrupt end after a promising beginning.
Texture, meanwhile, is typical for Guittard, rather like Amedei in its exceptional creaminess but slight sandiness. That’s acceptable for a chocolate with the flavour profile this one has, even if in taste one wishes for more. If Guittard could have kept the bitterness in check, this would be a great chocolate indeed. Ironically, this makes it an ideal chocolate for truffles, for in its strength it stands out boldly, while the cream works wonders in killing the bitterness. For straight eating, it remains very good, but just leaves a bit on the table.
Hans-Peter Rot: 24-Nov-2005
After unwrapping the bar, youĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ll notice the finish is, as usual, beautiful with a flawless surface, radiant sheen, and a very dark purplish color. ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s typical for Arriba, and the origin has probably never looked better. Unfortunately, though, Arriba has smelled better. The aroma wards off complexity and prefers a sweeter natured pound cake theme over spicy and light berries. ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s somewhat typical for Arriba but just a bit too subtle and not as deep as usual. Strength would be ideal.
The flavor is at first disappointingly mild and weak, conveying first blackberries and a sweeter nature of pound cake as suggested in the aroma. Grassy hits come in as well, and the intensity level then picks up slightly and continues with blackberries and a buttery feel that lends a dessert-like quality to the chocolate. Finally, the flavor actually picks up at the end as a strong raisin and cocoa peak heighten the flavor, contributing a sharper, contrasting edge and a finale that seems more appropriate if not common for this bean.
Texture is excellent. Yet it does nothing to help the chocolateĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s intensity, instead enhancing the buttery feel of the flavor. ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s exceptionally creamy and smooth, melting with a consistency that suggests maybe too much cocoa butter was added. As a result, Quevedo is akin to smoldering coals rather than a healthy fire. ArribaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s normally delicate flavor is just too delicate and reserved here, and the intensity only picks up towards the end, but luckily, it is there even if brief and memorable in the finish. However, there are clear Arriba flavors delivered in a palatable manner, though one feels that perhaps a higher percentage could make them louder.