The second in a series of ultra-exclusive chocolates (only 250 of each one, according to the Chocolate and Love order page for the bar) from tiny Danish producer Friis Holm. Even more rarefied, indeed, than the Chuno, this one from a single farm. These bars are the ultimate in “boutique” chocolate. At ¬£12.40 per bar, one must hope they end up in the hands of real chocolate aficionados: certainly it’s possible to envision a less-desirable situation where buyers with plenty of money but less interest in the chocolate for its own sake buy it as a “statement” item. With producers like these, however, if there is a statement to be made, it’s about origins and quality, and hopefully more companies like this may soon be providing dimensions in chocolate interpretation previously unseen.
Stuart Robson: 8-Dec-2010
At first glance this bar is clearly following on from the Chuno¬†with an enticingly¬†perfect finish. It is hard to imagine a more flawlessly formed bar of chocolate-¬†smooth, even, and with a wonderful shine. The colour is virtually identical to the Chuno and is a little darker than might be associated with other fine bars.
The aroma carries the similarities further; there is an instantly spicy, woody quality but this time it is backed by a tart impression of citrus lemon and a touch of red berry. There are still earthy suggestions and perhaps the faintest hint of smoke, but all together the aroma seems fruiter¬†and a little more demonstrative than in the Chuno.
Initially the flavours are surprisingly soft and delicate with a touch of sweet lime and strawberry jam. The intensity builds and brings with it some sharper citrus qualities before earthier, woody components of leather and tobacco leaf take a firm hold. The finish is perhaps a little flat with a whisper of red fruit and at the very death, a pleasing bitterness reminiscent of walnut skin. As with the Chuno¬†the texture is to be aspired to- it is remarkable that so much flavour can be delivered with a melt that is so instant and incredibly smooth.
Another highly accomplished bar from Friis-Holm. This and the Chuno¬†are hard to separate in terms of quality, both with lovely profiles and with some interesting similarities. The Chuno¬†is deeper and more robust while the Nicaliso¬†is fruitier¬†with a greater sense of elegance. In the end it will probably come down to mood, both being highly recommendable.
Alex Rast: 28-Oct-2010
Friis Holm goes for an even more rarefied category than the already exceptional with the Nicaliso – the single-plantation chocolate, hinting at perhaps even better flavours. And indeed, this one is on almost all counts that marginally better than the Chuno. Sharing likewise the same extraordinary texture, and an even more remarkable flavour development that even the textural perfection can’t overshadow. Here is chocolate that is clearly the product of an obsession.
Out of the wrapper, this bar already seems destined for greatness on visuals alone, with a lovely uniform finish and temper, medium-brown in colour, with nary a trace of imperfections. Is it perhaps slightly less perfect than the Chuno in this regard? Possibly, but such differences are completely immaterial next to the noticeable improvement in the aroma, particularly on the intensity front. This one is bold and immedate, decidedly sour, with citrus and currant prevailing in the early going. Later, chocolatey and blackberry provide a complete contrast, along with surprising hints of coffee and earthy. One minor note of alarm is a barely-perceptible rubbery hint, but on the whole this is a bold and encouraging aroma.
The flavour is, if anything, even better, starting with a very balanced chocolatey, then moving to a red-berry fruitiness, perhaps strawberry, perhaps raspberry. On the other hand, this quickly disappears, whereupon a more assertive/aggressive woodiness takes over. Finish ends on a smoother, nutty note reminiscent of walnuts, but there does remain that element of bitterness, the one thing that holds this bar back from near-perfection.
Not, of course, that the texture is a problem in this regard; just like the Chuno, it’s simply perfect, a copy of Hachez. In the Nicaliso, though, the flavour really does completely dominate the sensory experience, and edges this bar one step closer to the “ideal” chocolate. Is it the ultimate? No. Some improvement on that bitter edge could perhaps be achieved, possibly by tweaking the conche to just a little longer, while roasting just a little less – but this is a guess, at best. Chuno made the case that flavour needn’t be compromised in order to gain ideal texture; Nicaliso asks rather how close to perfection can the flavour from a specific origin get? It’s clear, here, that we are experiencing characteristics of the bean, which is how it should be: now, the question is – is there anything left to coax out? Michel Cluizel proved with Vila Gracinda that the S√£o Tom√© origin really could be brought into the realm of perfection; now, Friis Holm could have the opportunity to do likewise with an unexpected Nicaraguan origin.