Overall, Cuyagua is a great, not excellent, chocolate, further exemplifying Scharffen Bergerâ€™s preference, and providing a night-and-day comparison of how a light roast tastes in a cacao that can definitely withstand something darker. It may seem a little oppositional at first, simply due to the sharpness of the chocolate and the floundering darkness, but it grows on you quickly. Itâ€™s a great chocolate with minor faults, but nothing so severe as to cause dissatisfaction.
Alex Rast: 3-Dec-2005
Far and away Scharffen Berger’s best chocolate to date – and very much a departure for them. This has a much darker, more brooding character that aims for elegance rather than excitement. With its being so much less vivid, it can be difficult to understand this chocolate and come to terms with it – on first impression the sensation is of mild bewilderment, but once you make the adjustment it’s a very satisfying chocolate. Scharffen Berger has finally switched stations on the dial from the tedious aggression of the latest up-and-coming punk band to the mellow tones of old classic rock.
From the moment of unwrapping, the bar clearly reveals itself as different from the normal Scharffen Berger. Gone is the mirror finish and the very light colour. This bar looks decidedly more dull and more uneven in colour – like a bar from a more primitive era. Aroma, too, is more primitive, possessing more of the jungle in it, with a woody overall presence and accents of tobacco and molasses. None of the normal fruitiness is present, at least not here.
Flavour immediately asserts that woody, tannic whack. But quickly a superb, chocolatey flavour takes control, sliding gracefully into suggestions of hazelnut praline. At the end, though the old fruity flavours appear, currant and peach. Unlike its more forward cousins, though, this bar is nicely reserved in its fruitiness, the flavours not cutting through like knives but merely supplying an agreeable freshness that contributes to an amazing, delightful length with much flavour to explore.
Texturally the bar falls down – it’s rough and dry, replicating the expectations of the appearance. To a degree, that’s appropriate for the more wild flavour of this chocolate, but in the end it’s a letdown given Scharffen Berger’s usual performance. Yet the astonishing length and flavour depth make this bar a winner and, hopefully, a portent of what is to come. If this chocolate is a more “”experimental”" side of Scharffen Berger – let them experiment!
Hans-Peter Rot: 23-Nov-2005
Scharffen BergerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s triangular molding adds even more flair to an origin not often attempted. Temper and mold look great, showing the usual swirling and bubbling and causing no alarm, though. For a Venezuelan, the color is defintiely typical, somewhat bright but very red and deep, with a red aroma to match. Spices are present, too, with an emphasis on clove, and then woodier elements come out, and finally cream. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s complex, no doubt, suggesting a highly unique and exciting flavor not encountered frequently from Venezuela.
Strawberries and cream come on right away, then the flavor turns slightly darker, resembling dried cherries and then a buttermilk-like twang. Floral and also tannic, the flavor seems all over the place, and then shifts again to woody and dark coffee with still an emphasis on mild acid, contributing somewhat of a sour edge to a predominantly dark flavor. Texture is a bit more steady, melting smoothly yet with some moderate grain here and there but nothing like Amedei or Dagoba.
Cuyagua is like the Frankenstein of cacao. It reminds me of Carenero, Sur del Lago, and some Ocumares, all stitched up into one single chocolate. But the similarity to Ocumare is uncanny, mirroring it heavily but to a darker degree, if perchance to rival Domori’s Puertomar, which is of comparable flavor and presentation but of much higher quality than Cuyagua. Notwithstanding, Cuyagua is a good chocolate, but in some ways chaotic and random, seemingly stitched together with several of VenzuelaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s typical flavors.