A first attempt to produce a milk chocolate with “wild” cocoa, and Hachez have done a reasonably creditable job. Deviating from their usual mild, ultrasmooth style, here they produce a bar with plenty of flavour, if at some textural sacrifice. Unlike the dark bar, however, the gamble pays off, and while this chocolate may not be in the very first rank of milk chocolates, it’s still very much worth trying for its unique flavour
Alex Rast: 19-Sep-2010
To judge by the blurb on the box and by the results on the dark version of this bar, Hachez’ priorities with the wild cocoa series have more to do with environmental preservation than quality chocolate. With the milk chocolate, however, they manage to achieve something sufficiently good that one can once again believe that chocolate quality was on the agenda. Out of the box, the chocolate already looks promising, an agreeable dark red-brown demonstrating both a high cocoa percentage and a quality bean. Finish is likewise first-rate, the only imperfection, if it can even be called that, being very slight swirling on the back.
The aroma is extremely pleasant indeed, awakening memories of Cluizel’s fondly-remembered Grand Lait Cacao Pur Ile de Java 50% (although with the even greater Plantation Mangaro Lait it’s not necessary to over-eulogise the Java). Powerful cherry starts the nose, turning into caramel, and then nuts, before an assertive woody finish takes over, one which bold yet not over-aggressive, a good example of putting the virtues of milk to good use.
Initially the flavour suggests little, being mostly very creamy and buttery, but then a much fruitier, candy-strawberry note takes over. Whether or not these beans come from similar locations surely the genetics of the “wild” cocoas used here share something in common with the Colombia Nacional. As the flavour progresses it moves smoothly into hazelnut, then woody and coffee. It’s noticeably sweet, but the flavours shine through enough that the sweetness isn’t jarring.
Texture, while not even remotely close to Hachez’ normal standards, is a big improvement from the dark version of this bar; at least this one is reasonably smooth and creamy. It seems here Hachez has at last found the happy medium between trying for perfect texture at the expense of flavour, and ignoring texture to try to convey flavour better. This is a bar that leaves you with a smile on your face: it’s not revelatory, but it is definitely on par with better milk chocolates, and somehow seems to capture the essence of the beans Hachez has gotten better than the equivalent dark bar. Hachez might think about tuning the process on the dark to be similar to that on the milk: an excellent bean appears to be hiding here: just slightly better process decisions might make for a real winner.