With this blend, Scharffen Berger at last produces a definitive winner. Fruity as always, the chocolate manages however to avoid the really aggressive fruitiness of Scharffen Berger in the past. One gets the sense that the Dominican component may dominate because in some ways this bar is reminiscent of Los Ancones. But still, it’s mostly a demonstration of how it’s done in a blend.
Hans-Peter Rot: 16-Jun-2008
Scharffen BergerĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s ninth bar in its Limited Series is a blend of four origins: Trinidad, Grenada, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. It looks fantastic atop its protective foil, radiant with a deep sierra color and magenta highlights. The aroma, at first sniff, is somewhat aloof and ordinary. It speaks of mild ash and coconut, but eventually sparkles with zesty raspberry and grapes, while jasmine lingers delicately in the back.
Ashy with coconut at first, then suddenly fruity and complex, the flavor shifts from bad to awesome in just seconds, easing gently into a sinuous, scattered theme. ThereĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s a lot going on, such as melon, mango, and jasmine, but the dominant note is raspberries which gets darker and darker, eventually turning to plums towards the end with wood and pure cocoa closing things off. Texture, meanwhile, is smooth and glossy, melting without any effort and easing the somewhat rambunctious flavor along fluently.
In the wake of a so-so Cuyagua and an abject flop in their Kumasi Sambirano, Scharffen Berger returns to form with a marvelous, vibrant chocolate that has plenty of dark notes to keep things interesting. ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s a somewhat disorganized chocolate, though, its flavors whimsically thrown into the air and allowed to fall where chance dictated. It conveys a strong sense of the abstract, like capricious strokes from Jackson PollackĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s brush, so haphazard yet spectacular is its flavor distribution. But make no mistake, it all works well, unbelievably well, in fact, so stock up while you can.
Alex Rast: 13-Jan-2008
A shade darker than Scharffen Berger’s more common chocolates, this one nonetheless has plenty of visual appeal, with near-perfect finish and superb temper that invites admiration. But the aroma is much more admirable still, truly beautiful as well as astonishing in its complexity. Initially it starts out fruity with both blackberries and raspberries appearing, a hint of wine, then an assortment of spicy elements. It might be nice if S-B were to follow modern trend and eschew the vanilla, for undoubtedly strong vanilla scents also emerge, but this can hardly be a criticism when the aroma is this good, and in any case the vanilla scent is actually quite pleasant.
The flavour starts out strong right away, asserting raisins and grapes, then moving to woody and – shock! – coffee: a dark-roast suggestion almost alien to Scharffen Berger but here surely the result of the Grenada beans. Further complexities emerge: nutty, leather, and prune, and these all build to create a nicely harmonising profile that seems to capture all the various moods of chocolate.
Scharffen Berger also does a good job getting a smooth and effortless melt, although perhaps bested by the top manufacturers such as Cluizel. But this is a bar that will take on all comers with its flavour and aroma. It’s possible to attribute this in large part to the 4-bean blend, which has the potential for the greatest balance and wherein furthermore the bean choices are felicitous for achieving that balance. If they can continue to source these origins, Scharffen Berger might indeed consider replacing their standard bittersweet with this far better bar.