Another entry in the increasingly competitive Porcelana category, this one from a chocolatier whose style might not be expected to match the bean quite perfectly. In fact, however, Bonnat achieves a very creditable result, perhaps not up to Domori just yet but definitely one of Bonnat’s better bars. It captures the fruity, creamy characteristics of the bean very well, perhaps the only real problem being something of a lack of depth. Well worth trying.
Hans-Peter Rot: 13-Jan-2008
Bonnat has gotten their hands on another rare and revered cacao, this time some Porcelana beans sourced from Venezuela. The bar looks better than most Bonnat bars and shows the company took extra care in the temper and mold. The color just might be slightly darker than is expected from these usually lighter beans, suggesting maybe a darker roast which the aroma confirms. ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s dark and redolent of raisin, with red fruits underneath, but overall, there seems to be a similar balance that Amedei conveyed in their Porcelana.
Flavor doesnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t deviate far from aroma and delivers a somewhat stifled yet notably bitter assemblage of notes that suggest these beans arenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t the cream of the crop. Raisins and coffee lead this roast-inspired flavor, with strawberries popping in, but the coffee and tannins are too powerful and take on a familiarity of poorly processed Forasteros. Yet, as noted, everything seems distant or trapped under foggy glass, courtesy of so much extra cocoa butter that the texture is BonnatĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s finest to date.
After trying this bar it quickly becomes obvious there are serious issues Bonnat was unable to iron out with processing. Bean quality is the first and foremost problem that nothing in the factory could improve, even the addition of cocoa butter. Because Porcelana beans are typically non-bitter and delicate overall, this chocolate embodies everything one would not expect and may lead to concerns regarding the bar’s genetic constituency. Is it really PorcelanaĂ˘â‚¬â€ťalbeit bad PorcelanaĂ˘â‚¬â€ťor is something else mixed in? By any standard, though, this is just a bad chocolate and under normal circumstances I would gladly demand a recount before finalizing a review. However, at such a hefty price, IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ll just have to stick to my guns until another bar surfaces and proves that this bar was a fluke.
Alex Rast: 13-Jan-2008
Bonnat does a better job than usual on appearance with this bar, so that the finish is near-perfect, very smoothly tempered and with a pleasant light red-brown colour. The aroma is briefly worrisome, starting out on a cedar/woody track almost suggestive of Madagascar, but then quickly settling into the classic Porcelana strawberry. Nice suggestions of pure chocolatey aroma also show up, and rather as advertised the aroma turns out to be extremely well-balanced.
The flavour, if anything, is even more well-balanced, starting with a powerful chocolatey burst accompanied by suggestions of fruit, before moving into grassy and creamy sensations. Some hint of the nuttiness of Amedei’s Porcelana also shows up in the finish, although it’s the chocolatey flavour that prevails throughout. Very nice, but – does it fall off a bit in the finish? A slight criticism here, but otherwise a good definitive chocolate.
Following his particular style, Bonnat pays scant attention to texture which is merely average, and with a moderate as opposed to an exceptional creaminess. It’s interesting, in fact, that with the flavour as cleanly balanced as this one is, the bar would make a superb base chocolate for a blend, one that won’t interfere with flavour nor add harsh, unwanted components. Not likely we will see it in such a blended format, but it does illustrate what Bonnat has achieved here. If you want a reference for balance with a single bean, this is a bar to buy.