In Palmira, Valrhona has found a beautiful color of light brown and orange, and without any surface flaws, the bar simply looks superb all over. The aroma is also quite excellent and not nearly as abrasive as the two previous vintages, conveying currants, nutmeg, bitter almonds, and an overtone of tangy orange so common for the chocolate. Valrhona apparently has tighter control on the bar this year, suggesting a calmer and hopefully better balanced flavor is in store than in previous years.
One can only dream. In the wake of such a pleasing aroma, the flavor is nothing more than a deflating experience. Brown sugar is basically the dominant theme, starting the flavor on a terrible note but eventually showing some interest as nuts surge in with a mild orange-like acidity and blueberries as well. Though nice to taste, it is subtle and momentary, quickly derailed by wave upon wave of brown sugar, which perhaps could be quelled by upping the percentage since at a mere 65% Palmira is excessively cloying and unpleasant in its sweetness.
Luckily the texture, as dusty and thick as it is, does not exacerbate the sweetness, but it is a problem Valrhona should address. Why they havenâ€™t done so in three years is still puzzling and quite frankly unacceptable. But if I have to be optimistic about the chocolate, the relative control and calmness is commendable, and I can certainly sense a shared Palmira style in all three vintages. Unfortunately for Valrhona, though, there really is no interest in the bar, which is by far the least successful of the years.