Among its roster of dark bars, Hachez has finally produced a “winner” but only on a very relative basis. The bar still maintains a mild flavor that here is troubled by problems in the roast and the addition of cocoa powder. It’s also too bipartisan to impart a resolute impression of what direction Hachez wants to head with this line but the slight improvements over its other lines suggests this could be a stepping stone to what might be an excellent chocolate.
Alex Rast: 17-Sep-2010
A new entry in the emerging “wild” cocoa category. Hachez diverges from their usual style here and it would seem attempt to deliver a bar closer to “typical” chocolatiers, but with mixed results. No great disasters, but this chocolate isn’t exactly distinctive; it seems in fact fairly generic. To judge by the blurb on the wrapper, Hachez’ primary goal seems to be preservation of an ecosystem. A commendable objective, to be sure, but it wouldn’t hurt to make the chocolate a bit more interesting as well…
Out of the (high-quality) wrapper, the bar looks somewhat sinister, a very dark black-brown. Indications of swirling and bubbling on the back side are present but almost imperceptible, but still this isn’t a bar with the kind of instant visual appeal of, for example, Felchlin’s Cru Sauvage. Nor is the aroma as impressive. It’s very mild, which is perhaps to be expected, with a dominant note of vanilla and strawberry, along with much darker strains; brown sugar and earthy. All indications, however, are that this will be a bar in the typical muted Hachez style.
In actual fact, the flavour proves reasonably strong, much more pronounced than other Hachez bars. The main problem is that it’s fairly basic. The initial flavour is simply plain chocolatey, then it gives over to more forceful woody notes with the occasional sharp citrus spike. The finish becomes distinctly earthy and somewhat bitter, but it’s not jarring, just sort of unimpressive. There’s a lot more flavour here than in other Hachez bars, but unfortunately if other Hachez chocolates feel like fine flavours struggling to get out from beneath a smothering blanket, this one feels like undistinguished flavours given the freedom of the full light of day. Frustrating.
The texture makes it clear that Hachez is going for a different direction – it doesn’t have the perfect smoothness and melt of the “regular” Hachez bars, but rather a fairly ordinary mouthfeel, if anything, a bit dry and dusty. In the regular bars at least the texture gave it a particular mark of distinction, so that it had a position, but here the overall effect makes this just a generic chocolate bar with a fairly stiff price. Certainly it doesn’t even remotely compare to Felchlin’s superb Cru Sauvage. It’s not quite clear what Hachez was trying to achieve in the style, but whatever it was, it’s not working. This seems to be a bar designed to offend no one – which it succeeds in – at the price of not impressing either.
Hans-Peter Rot: 24-Jan-2010
Near black is the color this bar emits, perhaps leaking out some red, but ominously dark nonetheless despite being attractively molded. Continuing, the aroma is subtle and very unimpressive with little more than a vague sweetness of Dutched cocoa comprising its core. Some hints of ash and finer inflections of cherry are present in traces as well, but in the end they are far too fleeting to add sufficient depth.
First taste is that of a Bonnat bar, somewhat nutty like soy, and then whirlwinds of a dark roast take over, suggesting rather aggressively that Hachez was not afraid to crank up the heat here. Ash supports that notion, but luckily the fruitiness of the beans is present as well, first blueberries, then strawberries, and later (towards the end) melon, which leads to a somewhat dry and bitter finish, imparting dry cocoa on the tongue as the lasting memory.
Intensity, however, is where this bar falters and coming from Hachez this does not surprise. Although the chocolate has some classic Venezuelan flavors, the intensity is not at a level to make the bar stand out or to best exemplify the origin and the beans. The company may be struggling to find that balance, and at 70% the bar is far more along the lines of what a typical chocolate offers by way of cocoa butter. With 17g of fat per serving its flavor is not nearly as muted as its 77% and 88% stablemates (which contain 22-23g of fat per serving) yet it melts with excellent, though not as superb, texture comparable (again) to a Bonnat bar. Although a decent effort, it still suggests that the more things change the more they remain the same.