Is this an attempt by Valrhona to move towards a more “mass-market” product? Certainly the way it’s being distributed and described makes one wonder. Unfortunately, the taste makes one wonder too: this is a chocolate of a lower standard than Valrhona usual. If they are not trying an ill-advised foray into “cheaper” chocolate this one forces one to ask the question of why.
Alex Rast: 15-Aug-2009
Valrhona doesn’t falter on appearance, even in a bar presumably more aimed at cooking: it’s nicely finished and more or less defect free, save some swirling, and although a dark colour is apparent it’s usual for Ghana – so nothing to worry about yet.
Nothing to worry in the aroma either: fairly typical Ghana with a mix of earthy and brown sugar along with traces of molasses and bread. Not revelatory by any means (see Theo for that) but perfectly acceptable. Sadly, the flavour isn’t particularly acceptable, even if it starts with an initially promising rich brown sugar cast. The problem is that the flavour suddenly implodes into bland cocoa and coffee with hints of nuts and toast. It seems as though Valrhona has badly misjudged the roast, a very atypical move for a company known for a light touch.
Mouthfeel is also decidedly poor, dry and dusty, and this does nothing to relieve the already astringent qualities in the flavour. Has Valrhona had a change of leadership at the roaster? Several recent efforts have been darker than usual – not necessarily to bad effect but a clear break with their past. This chocolate, however seems like an even more clear break with traditions of uncompromising quality. What are they trying to achieve? Valrhona already have a clear presence and widespread distribution in the consumer sector, with far better chocolates like Guanaja and Manjari, to which this adds nothing. It doesn’t really broaden their style choices because it just doesn’t work. This is a misfire: a chocolate best withdrawn and rethought.