Probably the most sour chocolate of its range, Sambirano is an all-out assault of tartness, delivered in red and purple shades. However, it is properly balanced and therefore precludes the final impression that Domori went just a little too far this time. If you like extremes, this one is for you.
Alex Rast: 14-Apr-2007
Unexpectedly, with a varietal Domori should be a great match for, they stumble a bit. Here is a Madagascar that is just too aggressive, too masculine for the normally shy and retiring bean, and as a result challenging rather than relaxing to eat. The flavour is very big, which for some origins might be fine but here tends to magnify problems and leads to a bar that feels a bit too much light being struck by a freight train.
Domori’s suboptimal package (plastic wrapper) nonetheless contains a bar looking quite optimal: of a very light colour typical of its varietal and with only minor surface irregularities. There’s some back-side bubbling but that’s about it.
The aroma, however, is really guite off, with a strange, beef bouillon-like saltiness to it, accented with shades of coffee. Indeed, some coffees turn out like this when the extraction has been a little too thorough, and the result, as here, is something perhaps a little reminiscent of that pitch used for sea piers. Bizarre.
At least the flavour isn’t quite so strange, although it too has its difficulties. Initially there is a soft, plummy flavour, but the middle flattens into a tannic woody hint before proceeding to a milder tropical tone. Alarmingly, the finish reveals that same beefy/iron and coffee note, so that the bar takes on a bit of the character of Marmite, and this is not a good thing in chocolate. It’s not as pronounced, though, as the aroma, so that it is merely a disturbing suggestion rather than a gastly apparition. On the whole it’s a flavour that starts well but ends with hints of trouble.
Texture, like most Domori chocolates, can’t be faulted: it’s perfectly smooth and creamy, dense and thick on the mouth. Nonetheless, there is very clearly the sense of a misstep for Domori, who should have been able to capture the spicy, citrus delicacy of Madagascar effortlessly. Instead, we get a jumbled flavour collision that has no resemblance whatsoever to its varietal in the normal sense and seems to have more in common with the Ocumare 67 bean. Domori needs to reinterpret the processing for the Madagascar and start fresh.
Hans-Peter Rot: 11-Apr-2007
Domori has done a great job making this bar look good, since Sambirano looks less slovenly as their other bars. Only moderate swirling and bubbling are present, which are of no concern whatsoever. The color is presented in a sierra shade, brightened with a dark purple tint that typifies one of the more common Madagascan themes. Flooding the nose with a powerful raisin and prune liqueur, the aroma smells unusually vinegary and sour as well, excessively so since the face practically cringes in its presence.
It’s no surprise, then, to discover that the profile is completely saturated in a sour liqueur of prunes and raisins, with a stringent redness of cranberries that altogether creates a puckery cocktail that prickles your tongue incessantly like a thousand needles. Darker notes such as coffee lurk in the background as well, merely lending proper support, but the sourness is merciless and omnipotent, refusing any other flavor to pacify its purple and crimson fury. The experience sure is sobering and shocking, giving the impression of an orchestra entirely comprised of shrieking cats.
The texture meanwhile offers a sense of normalcy by treading effortlessly and creamily, which is expected from Madagascar anyway. But what is not expected is the flavor that Domori opted to achieve. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pungent, sour, and far too vinegary, all of which are exacerbated by an intensity level that make this chocolate seem like itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on a feverishly high caffeine overdose. Perhaps some disparities in the ferment are to be blame here, and if so, this problem should have been mended with further processing that DomoriÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s minimal impact philosophy seems to negate. In short, Sambirano is a disorienting, acerbic, and high strung chocolate that needs to be tamed in order for one to recognize and thus enjoy it as a fine Madagascan.