Amano – Cuyagua

Amano – Cuyagua

With a third bar (Cuyagua follows Madagascar and Ocumare), Amano’s maverick techniques of blending stone-ground cacao and whole vanilla pods without a trace of lecithin becomes standard practice. Cuyagua is an aromatic chocolate that saturates the palate with fruit flavors but ends with earthier notes.


Reviews

Stuart Robson: 13-Apr-2011

Posted: April 13, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 86.00 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num: 3/4/87A
Source: Sample direct from maker
Supplied by:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this review
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The latest bars by Amano all seem to be finished to a very high standard and the Cuyagua is no exception.   The temper is very fine giving a glossy, even finish and a sharp, clean snap.  The colour is fairly light but with a deep, umber-like hue.  Few blemishes are present with only the typical swirling consistent in all of Amano’s work to speak against it.

The aroma is soft and gently fruity with top notes of ripe apricot/nectarine, maraschino cherries and soft violet sitting alongside touches of mint, vanilla and melted marshmallow.  Quite reminiscent of Amano’s Montanya overall. There are also some spicy back-notes and just a faint hint of something slightly meaty which may indicate some problems with post-harvest processing.  It is incredibly subtle however and fails to detract with any significance from what is a beautiful and understated nose.

On the palette the comparisons with the Montanya are never far away. Defined stone fruit notes in the form of apricot, then hints of cherry, tangerine and a touch of fresh cream. Some of Amano’s typical floral tones arrive among the fruit, jasmine and a little rose perhaps.  In the mid palette the spices hinted at in the nose; clove and a light touch of cardamom begin to draw in and bring with them a very firm and, when set against such a soft profile, intrusively tannic grip. Heading towards the finish things are very woody indeed, all on cedar, pencil shavings and green tea with little of the fruity/floral complexities on show earlier in the melt.

The mouth-feel is very fine and as such, in line with Amano’s other recent releases; smooth and of medium speed but just a touch grainer than the likes of Cluizel or Bonnat.

An interesting bar that displays a level of complexity and a delicacy of touch that can now be considered characteristic of Amano. There are certainly some beautiful notes on show here but the intrusive tannins and woody, drying finish prevent the Cuyagua from reaching the heights of Amano’s broadly similar and well regarded Montanya. Well worth trying however and I wouldn’t be surprised if future batches surpass this one.

Alex Rast: 12-Jan-2008

Posted: January 12, 2008 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 7 10%
Look/snap: 8 5%
Taste: 6 35%
Melt: 8 5%
Length: 7.5 15%
Opinion: 6.5 30%
Total/100: 66.75 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this review
Rating: 1.0/10 (2 votes cast)

In appearance, Amano’s bar looks suspiciously dark, almost Forastero-like, although otherwise well-finished. No obvious signs of process trouble, but a surprising colour given the origins. Stranger, the aroma seems out of context with the colour, sour, almost puckery, starting out with strawberry, then moving to citrus and even vinegar with some cedar notes. Apparently Amano has decided a very brief conch is in order, a risky decision if the beans are anything short of perfectly balanced on their own.

In spite of the clear indications from the aroma, the flavour confounds expectations once again, with a brief fruity, cherry sourness, but then an increasingly dominant bland cocoa/earthy overall effect. Here it seems the culprit is overconching into a generic flavour, not its opposite. As the flavour progresses it becomes woody and then vanilla, possessing the chocolate chip cookie note of Marcolini’s Fleur de Cacao. Traces of brown sugar reinforce this effect, with the bar finishing on a custard note. It’s completely incomprehensible, a jumble of flavour not only at odds with the aroma but indecipherable in terms of process decisions. The key point, though, is mildness, excessive mildness.

Texture is good, above average in smoothness and super-creamy, in the same direction as Amedei in many respects. At least here there is something understandable. But the rest of the bar is both befuddling and disappointing, without clear personality or direction. Perhaps the easiest explanation is that Amano is still experimenting with process settings and will have a better feel for how to get things right once they’ve mastered their own production. But for the moment it’s probably best to stick with Amano’s other offerings which are a quantum leap above this chocolate, a bar easily forgotten.

Hans-Peter Rot: 9-Oct-2007

Posted: October 9, 2007 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 8.5 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 87 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this review
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Cuyagua looks great in the visuals, bearing good sheen; a light auburn-red color; and lots of air bubbles as the only true “flaw.” An Amano logo on each section furthers a sense of refinement and identity to a cacao not often put in the spotlight but fashionably done so here. Moving on to the aroma, one can sense the spicy dominance with raisin overtones, recalling Amedei as a comparison; almond, cherry, and molasses underscore the scent, with a hint of tanginess for lightness. Clearly, this is a Cuyagua we’ve all not tasted before.

Reflecting the subtly nuanced aroma is a virtually identical flavor, starting with cream and cherries, and then a persistent tone of spice and raisins, the latter of which seems to be an obvious effect of the roast, not an inherent note. Increasing in intensity the more it melts, the chocolate hits an apex in chocolatiness, then shifts completely to roasted almonds and a mounting acidity that provides a subtle twang and lightness as a contrast to the raisin-like flavor. Despite all these great traits, though, Amano loses control in the finish, turning dry in the mouth and emphasizing the earthier nature, which although is not a bad thing is rather abrupt.

Except for that minor dryness towards the end, the texture is otherwise smooth and slightly thick, but perhaps not as refined as the Ocumare bar. Nonetheless, the bar as a whole is a strong ingress to the Amano roster and in fact to the chocolate world in general, delivering a complexity of flavor comparable to a blended bar, and more specifically, to Amedei for reference. Due to Cuyagua’s close proximity to Ocumare de la Costa, some similarity is inevitable, but this bar remains unique and to some degree more interesting, if not for flavor alone then for its individuality and singularity. Comparisons to Scharffen Berger’s Cuyagua are also unavoidable (due to limited production); Amano prefers less fruit, more spice and raisin; and more tanginess. No one approach is better, just different, and Amano again has proven that they mean business.

Emily Stone: 15-Sep-2007

Posted: September 15, 2007 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 8 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 7 5%
Length: 9 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 84.75 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this review
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Amano’s chocolate-makers have an almost miraculous ability to identify and highlight the inherent flavors in heritage cacao beans. Here, they bring out the fruitiness in their stash from the Cuyagua valley (located in the same state as the legendary Chuao region). The fruit in this case is a refreshing burst of apple instead of the more common cherry or red berry. Like Scharffen Berger, Amano works with whole vanilla beans instead of seeds or extract–combined with the chocolate’s subtle notes of tobacco, that extra kick of flavor gives Amano’s Cuyagua a strong, earthy finish.

Cuyagua’s (and, for that matter, Amano’s) one shortcoming is a somewhat volatile temper. In its intended state, the bar doesn’t have quite enough snap. And the chocolate’s structure is too easily disrupted in warm weather, making the texture brittle.



About the Author

Seventy%