At first waft, Alpaco offends. Itâ€™s burnt and over-roasted, which for this origin (Ecuador) can be a good thing but here the impression Valrhona has made is total overkill. Itâ€™s a shame since the aroma exudes sophistication in the form of flowers, flowers, and yet more flowers, along with hints of strawberry and nutmeg, which as implied would surely impress if not for the overriding burntness.
Flavor, however, makes minor amends but ultimately leaves one wanting more. Floral is the key to this chocolate, one-sidedly so in fact just like the aroma but a lot less powerful and more difficult to pick apart. Orange blossom and something pink, both refreshing and highly appealing, dominate, but the lack of intensity and general mildness of the chocolate do little to support their presence.
Valrhona shines with the texture, as it typically does, but only to further emphasize the already timid and partisan nature of the chocolate. Indeed, Alpaco is a bit flat and deficient in character to make it remarkable, unlike similarly flavored chocolates such as Guittardâ€™s Chucuri or even other Ecuadorian Nacionals, where there is at least some cocoa intensity or additional flavors to fill in the gaping holes that Alpaco leaves vacant. In short, the chocolate simply lacks substance to flesh out its good, albeit mild, flavor.