Amano has long hinted in their package design at which company they aspire to, and now at last they coomplete the circle. Can anyone doubt that this chocolate is posited as a direct comparison to Amedei’s Chuao? Amano has evolved a distinct and unique style quite different from Amedei, though, so package similarities (at least to Amedei’s original packaging) notwithstanding, one expects that the chocolate will be very different. However, high ambition comes with high expectation, and likewise this is a bar that comes with the highest of all expectations, particularly given Amano’s recent string of successes.


Reviews

Stuart Robson: 6-Feb-2011

Posted: February 6, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 8 5%
Taste: 9 35%
Melt: 8.5 5%
Length: 9 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 88.75 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num: 3/4/83B
Source: Own purchase
Supplied by: Paul A. Young
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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

An interesting start with a colour that has some of the red hue one would expect from a Chuao but with surprisingly dull, flat brown dominating the impression. The finish is typical of Amano however, beautifully moulded with a high gloss shine, some expected swirling and a clean snap.

On the nose this is a fairly restrained expression of Chuao, there is quite a lot on offer but it doesn’t leap out at you in the way that some others might. The vanilla is a little prominent for my tastes but is backed by a vibrant mix of blueberry and raspberry with hints of red wine. It then surprises with some unusual notes for this origin, a little floral with touches of lemon rind and vague nuttiness.

Moving onto the palette the first thing that comes to the fore is a slow building surge of fruit, mostly the blueberry and now red currant with a pleasant and restrained acidity. Again the vanilla is a little distracting but some lovely, subtle floral notes of jasmine come forward alongside hints of walnut skin and a touch of sultana. The finish is of medium length with jasmine, blueberry, a suggestion of stone fruit and restrained cedary tannins. The melt is very fine indeed, slow and even, if a touch grainier than Amano sometimes aims for.

An interesting mix of flavours with the overall impression being of elegance and poise which in many ways can be considered a departure from the often publicised character of Chuao. With such an obviously more delicate roast on display, this bar is bound to divide opinion.   In the end it will come down to a preference between the more deeply roasted expressions of Amedei and, to an even greater extent Pralus, or this more delicate and arguably complex take on the origin. I often favour a lighter treatment and as such believe Amano have produced a very fine bar here and, if not fully realised quit yet, a reference for what can be achieved when a lighter touch is applied to these famous beans. Amano always seem to improve on the early releases of their bars and as such, I am really looking forward to tasting a future batch of this.

Alex Rast: 16-Oct-2010

Posted: October 16, 2010 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8 10%
Look/snap: 8 5%
Taste: 8 35%
Melt: 7 5%
Length: 7 15%
Opinion: 8 30%
Total/100: 78.00 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:
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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)

A big disappointment; arguably, the biggest disappointment in chocolate to date. With a known-great source and a known-good chocolatier, Amano manage not to deliver, in spite of the buildup on the wrapper (which, it will be admitted, is similar to what all other manufacturers do anyway). This bar feels like a throwback to Amano’s early days – undoubtedly a fine chocolate, but somehow generic. Actual flavour of the chocolate bears no resemblance to the description of the box, which sounds much more like the Amedei original. In truth, this is a bar more or less like any of many fine chocolates, Just Another Fruity Chocolate.

From the start, Amano’s chocolate is worrisome. First of all, it doesn’t have the classic very red colour of most Chuaos, rather, it’s sort of a neutral brown, betraying nothing of origins. Moulding itself is excellent, with only slight bottom irregularities and swirling, but otherwise this bar looks fairly similar to any from Amano.

It’s the aroma, however, that really increases the nervousness, or rather, the lack of it. It just doesn’t have the power of a typical Chuao, being instead mild and retreating, with citrus and tropical being the most prominent players. Next, woody and cocoa suggestions appear, along with a few hints of grape, nothing, indeed, that seems dissimilar from many other fine chocolates, and certainly not the mark of a unique origin. There’s nothing terribly bad with this aroma; it’s just not distinctive or “Chuao-like”.

The flavour starts out a little more promising, with a fruity explosion, mostly raspberry, with some blackberry and redcurrant, decidedly red. From there things rapidly diminish, the taste quickly tapering off into woody and then nutty, with (shock) even some coconut in there. This is nothing like any other Chuao we’ve seen, and yet ironically every bit like a thousand other chocolates we’ve seen. Fine chocolates, yes, but not great chocolates.

Completing the depressing package, the melt isn’t great either, being somewhat dry and rather rough. It’s as if this bar was one made years ago, forgotten in storage, then released. And indeed, the taste itself is very much like Amano’s very early efforts – fine but generic, so that overall this chocolate goes over like a bizarre throwback to Amano’s early, experimental days. One could see the potential then, of course, but one expected more. Now, however, Amano has established itself as a first-rank chocolate manufacturer, and such a surprising fumble is similar to Cluizel’s original Hacienda Concepcion: a disappointment. Rather like that bar, in fairness this is in the category of “vague disappointment”: clearly this wasn’t a total mistake but rather a series of minor mistakes. One feels like a light hand at the roast didn’t give the flavour enough development, and that a probably longish conche combined with a low cocoa butter percentage acted to flatten out what was left. There’s every reason to expect Amano will improve this with subsequent runs, but for the moment it is perhaps the one Chuao not to rush out and buy right away.



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.