After a lengthy sabbatical thanks to Amedei’s exclusive agreement, Pralus returns with a Chuao bar. The previous effort had been interesting and worthwhile; if anything Pralus has done better than the earlier version. Chuao beans take well to a dark roast and Pralus shows off the value of different stylistic interpretations with a bar that offers a distinct contrast to other Chuaos with a much more brooding character, while still retaining the qualities that make the origin so special. This might be the best Pralus yet.


Reviews

Stuart Robson: 3-Nov-2010

Posted: November 3, 2010 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 7.5 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 84.25 100%
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Pralus Chuao 75%

A number of interpretations of the classic Chuao origin have come to the market recently which is surely a good thing for lovers of fine chocolate. This allows us all to see how the beans react to a variety of different stylistic treatments and here with Pralus we are of course dealing with, among other things, a very dark roast indeed.

The colour is instantly of note; the usual redish brown you might expect from this great origin makes way for the darker tones indicative of more extreme treatment in the roaster than is usually practiced by other producers. The finish in general is good with minimal defects outside of scuffs and blemishes due to transit.

On the nose this bar is very interesting.  There is little of the usual blueberry, plumb and red fruits you might expect but instead it is a great deal more earthy, woody and neutral, showing all the hallmarks of the distinctly dark roast on offer here.

Moving onto the palette we start to see more of what Chuao has to offer. While the earthy, deeply roasted coffee elements persist there are now suggestions of blueberry and damp tobacco, each taking turns in the length. The finish is woody, earthy and faintly tannic with only suggestions of the intense fruitiness these beans can offer. The melt however is quite fantastic; silky smooth and not at all cloying.

There are some interesting and ultimately enjoyable flavours on offer in this take on Chuao and in the end it is all going to come down to taste. Here we have an example of the origin taken as close to the edge as it can go and as such we see more of the Pralus house style than we do the intrinsic qualities of the bean. If you favour a dark roast this is impressively handled and may well be the Chuao for you.

As an additional note I should add that there seems to be considerable difference between batches with this bar. The bar reviewed here has a best before date of 22/11/2011. The latest editions seem to be more notably fruity and of a lower roast. I will post a review of a later release when possible.

Alex Rast: 11-Sep-2010

Posted: September 11, 2010 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9.5 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 9 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 9.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 91.00 100%
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The enforced long hiatus in Pralus’ Chuao brought about by Amedei’s exclusive agreement seems to have given Pralus the opportunity to think carefully about process decisions. Clearly the new version would have to be different from Amedei while at the same time true to the Chuao origin. However, the appearance completely belies the origin, being very dark-brown indeed, almost unrecognisable in terms of the origin. That said, it’s otherwise very nice, with relatively minimal swirling, although a bit of surface scuffing probably brought on through shipping.

The aroma, however, is all Chuao, all the way. First, it has the distinctive and unmistakeable power that is simply the strongest of any origin, period, and asserts its indisputed dominance with the same blueberry and brown sugar characteristic that marks virtually all Chuaos. Hints of strawberry and earthy further verify the secondary characteristic, dispelling any lingering misgivings about the chocolate. Then Pralus’ own style signature makes itself known, that dark, coffee and earthy note betokening a fierce roast.

Interestingly, it’s the roast that emerges first in the flavour, so that coffee and earthy appear instantly, verifying Pralus as the source beyond question – one could almost taste this blind and guess the manufacturer. But then a mighty chocolatey wave takes over, that which one has long suspected a Chuao roasted to the maximum allowable might yield, almost the essence of single-flavour perfection. But in spite of this, Pralus has somehow managed to save the Chuao characteristics from consignment to the fire, and all the usual suspects: blueberry, molasses, strawberry, make a surprise appearance in the finish. How Pralus has achieved this miracle with such an insistent roast may have less to do with the process itself as to the assertive and resilient characteristics of the bean, which is prepared to survive even fairly brutal treatment.

Texture is among Pralus’ best: extremely creamy indeed and with nice smoothness – it must be said here Pralus has improved upon Amedei. This could be Pralus’ best bar of all, in fact, a great example of a bean that takes well to a dark roast being given the opportunity to see what it can reveal with such strong treatment. Is it better than Amedei? No. But it offers a worthy alternative and demonstrates the extraordinary range of the Chuao origin, a source that not for nothing is among the most revered in the world.



About the Author

Alex Rast
Alex Rast is a long-time chocolate experimenter, taster and part-time consultant to chocolate companies. Starting in 1990 with early experiments himself in making chocolate, he quickly moved into evaluating chocolates in commercial production and assisting other companies in improving process. Over the course of many years he has evaluated over 700 distinct chocolate bars. He is one of the earliest reviewers for SeventyPercent and has helped to define and systematise the ratings system. In addition to bar chocolate, he also experiments with chocolate baking and the formulation of "canonical" recipes for classic chocolate items.