A mixed effort with a challenging bean. This chocolate will present you with a kaleidoscopic procession of different flavours, wildly lurching from one to the other. If the sense of being out of control is a bit like being on a rollercoaster, then surely this bar will appeal to those who like thrills with their chocolate. Those, however, for whom thrills evoke spills in the same breath might find this just a bit too in-your-face to take. Not a bar for the beginner.
Hans-Peter Rot: 1-Mar-2007
Despite Pralus’ new adoption of heartier packaging, rough shipping has nonetheless afflicted the bar with minor damage in the form of chipping around the edges. Other than that, the bar looks near perfect in temper and mold, with a dark red color that conjures comparisons of wet bricks. Aroma struggles to emerge from its physical constraints. Overall, it’s deep, red, and very soil-like, with a hearty chocolatiness to back it up. Although simple and good on its own, it lacks enough power to make it great.
What very little character existed in the aroma quickly blossoms into a multifaceted flavor. Immediately, cherries come to the fore, bringing with it a subtle but definitely noticeable smokiness that falls to the background, remaining as a ubiquitous accent. Now floral for the most part, then shifting to melon, then abruptly to grape, the flavor is a quirky and unpredictable challenge for those already accustomed to sensible progression. The strength of the chocolate meanwhile is as deep as a Stygian current, adding body and heft to a flavor that is definitely in need of it, lest the chocolate end up too light and frisky.
Meanwhile, the texture is not like Pralus at all. Although thick, it’s not smooth and it’s slightly coarse, summoning some grain here and there, making for a very odd consistency that needs much improvement. The chocolate as a whole, is a curious investigation into an origin not often attempted and perhaps not fully understood. Comparisons to CluizelĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Maralumi are inevitable, as both chocolates evoke a sense of the abstract through an uncompromising flavor that shows no signs of yielding to conformity regardless of who sits behind the processing helm. An impishly stubborn cacao this is, but will anyone ever break the bucking bronco?
Alex Rast: 15-Jan-2007
With the new more robust wrapping the bar is at least reasonably protected from the vagaries of shipping, however, out of the foil it still evokes questions. With a dark colour and strong swirling on the back there are suspicions, even though the front looks immaculate. Pralus has usually done well visually and this is strangely disconcerting.
Aroma is very aggressive and up-front, allspice predominating initially, then turning to an equally sharp currant fruitiness. Eventually, however, the Pralus dark roast swallows all and the nose becomes more earthy and cocoa, with a slight trace of dust. It looks like this is going to be a wild flavour ride…
And as expected the flavour goes all over the map. Initially it is a strikingly flat cocoa, prompting what-happened-here questions, but then suddenly blackberry spikes forward. Now things get truly confused as leather (rather like L’Artisan’s Madong) takes centre stage, accompanied by Pralus’ ashy smokiness of the dark, dark roast. It would seem no attempt has been made to harmonise flavours here – the choice is to make as bold an exposition of the bean’s characteristics as possible.
With such a ferocious flavour sequence a rather challenging texture would seem to be in order but Pralus remains with a smooth, gentle melt offering no resistance. One cannot fault it but stylistically it’s again a curiously jarring contrast. Papua chocolate seems to be gaining a reputation as the “”problem child”" of cacao and this bar does nothing to dispel that image. Indeed, with its very radical flavours it if anything is the quintessential “”punk”" chocolate – all raw experience. This is not your mother’s chocolate…