August 29, 2007

Pralus – Brut de São Tomé – review – Hans-Peter Rot

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Written by: Hans-Peter Rot

Even before unwrapping, Pralus makes it clear this 160g solid ingot isn’t your average chocolate ‘bar’. Brown paper and raffia give the bar a rustic feel despite the refined and shiny appearance of the actual chocolate. A blazing red tint marks the Sao Tome origin, while Pralus’ name inscribed across the surface assures us who the producer is. The aroma jumps out instantly, suggesting acid in the flavor, while raspberries and smoke make for a simple but strong scent.

The flavor wastes no time and delivers itself in an immediate and almost jumbled manner. Smokiness and acidic raspberries initially emerge, adding familiarities from Pralusâ’ wonderful Sao Tome bar. But after this point, the flavor goes all over the place due to the profusion of nibs that cause the chocolate to crumble apart, dispersing various notes everywhere as chewing releases their flavors. Peaches, tropical fruits, and fermented tones saturate the tongue, actually lightening the chocolate, lessening the smoke, and offering a more nuanced interpretation of the Sao Tome homogeneity.

As implied, the texture is highly crunchy, crumbly, and irregular, falling apart more than melting, which causes the erratic display of flavor. Adding to this variability is that the bar is consumed in uneven chunks, pieces, and crumbs rather than equally portioned squares. Despite this, the chocolate’s format is just as enjoyable as it is different, exposing the palate prematurely to various flavors and contributing a unique raw and unrefined counterpoint to the chocolate. The sourcing of the cacao is a bit vague (both’Sao Tome cacao’ and Corallo’s ‘chocolate’ are listed on the ingredients list), but since the actual chocolate portion tastes identical to Pralus’ other Sao Tome bar one can only assume the liquor for both bars shares the same source. Regardless of origin, though, the bar is a rustic but enjoyable journey into Sao Tome, one that rivals and possibly ousts Scharffen Berger’s Jamaica á l’ancienne.

About the Author

Hans-Peter Rot


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