Asfarth is definitely the most aggressive of the trinity, quickly asserting itself without delay. However, as strong as the flavor may be, the milk is still a major player in the final flavor and seems to provide a much more blatant contrast to the stronger nature of the cacao.
Alex Rast: 7-Feb-2006
Bonnat tinkers around with origin milk chocolates and finally produces a winner. A powerful milk chocolate that doesn’t sit in the shadows and utter confused mumblings like the other milk chocolates in the line tend to do. Here chocolate balances well with milk, and there is no funny business with the flavour, either, just good, classic components. Curiously, though, this bar seems almost like a doppelganger for Cluizel’s legendary Chocolat Grand Lait Cacao Pur Ile de Java. In flavour nearly identical, this chocolate might fall a little short of Cluizel’s classic, but this is in any case a milk chocolate worth buying again and again.
Out of the wrapper, the chocolate doesn’t look particularly special – indeed, it has a slightly rough-hewn appearance with considerable bubbling. A lighter colour than expected also is cause for wonder: what formulation tricks is Bonnat pulling? However, the aroma lays aside concerns over visuals, being assertive and complex. Cherries mingle with teak for a deep, rich body with some suggestion of olives, never sharp, however, merely mellow and smooth. It’s so similar to Cluizel’s Java chocolate that they’re almost clones.
Flavour is similarly distinguished. Initially there is a strong and classic strawberry burst, which then turns into dark coffee, a light-and-dark contrast that works here when Bonnat introduces the third element that ties them together: cream, a flavour that flows in at the end with an intensity that covers everything and is likewise an enormous contrast from the sour flavours of Bonnat’s other origin milk chocolates. There’s complexity but not to the point of bewilderment, smooth flavour but not to the point of blandness. It approaches a textbook demonstration of how to make a good milk chocolate.
The texture is a letdown, unfortunately, lacking even the luscious creaminess of its brethren and thus entirely average texturally, in one of the areas that puts it decisively below Cluizel’s (now-superseded) Java. That bar was a bold step into the future, a chocolate ahead of its time and the one indeed that inspired all the new wave of high-percentage named-origin milk chocolates. Bonnat’s Asfarth might not be breaking that sort of conceptual ground but it does stake out a high-end territory in milk chocolates, the bar that, if you must choose only one of Bonnat’s 3 to try, should be it.
Hans-Peter Rot: 15-Jan-2006
Despite the good molding job, Asfarth looks fairly unpolished and matte in resemblance, suggesting issues with tempering or possibly an old bar. Color meanwhile is moderately dark but for a bar with 65% cocoa solids itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s surprisingly light, approaching a shade of oak. With such a light color, the aroma comes as a surprise, being potent and strong, not with milk, though, but with the cacaoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inherent notes of tobacco, leather, and pine, which could make for an interesting flavor with the milk solids.
The chocolate is immediately strong and assertive, but a familial tie is present in the form of a milky overcast, which incidentally emphasizes the contrast of milk versus cacao. A lemony acidity jolts in, then tobacco in the background, and everything just increases and gets more intense, save for the milkiness which gets drowned in the commotion and eventually loses its uphill battle as the chocolate finishes off with cocoa force. Texturally, the bar isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fudge-like, just vaguely smooth in consistency, showing some grain and dryness that makes the flavor more chaotic and high strung.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s interesting to taste a smoky milk chocolate, but for those already uneasy about smoke in their chocolate, the addition of milk may sound all the more unsettling. Nevertheless, the contrast among the three components (i.e. milk, cacao, and smoke) is striking, elevating an already anomalous flavor into new territory that Pralus never fully reached with Melissa. It would be interesting to experiment more with this combination to concoct a more controlled and less milky bar in the future.