The bar that must presumably be the “standard” in the Red Star lineup, with a fairly normal percentage and available generally – the more accessible version of the otherwise-identical-source 83%. This one should tick all boxes for typical chocolate connoisseurs, combining a familar origin with a familiar percentage, and thus falling into the range of “minimal risk” – at least, that is, of being genuinely strange. It will certainly be part of the core of the Red Star range, a bean-to-bar production from only the second such company making fine chocolate in the UK.
Alex Rast: 31-Oct-2010
Another fine effort from Red Star, clearly one of the rising stars in chocolate manufacture. This bar stays firmly on familiar terrain, providing a nicely accessible chocolate for those who don’t care to be too-shocked, and at the same time demonstrating a technical mastery that is clearly one of the strong points of Red Star. Very few manufacturers have come out of the gate in such fine form; this is a promising start for a chocolate company from whom great things can be expected in future.
Rather like a lot of Ecuador chocolates, the appearance of this bar upon opening is forbidding: dark brown, sleek, and smooth. An almost total absence of moulding defects of any sort provides evidence of very tight control at production time. To calm the senses after this awesome appearance, the aroma is the essence of comforting, smooth raisin and prune along with blackberry manifesting themselves at the beginning. Further soothing notes of cocoa continue the evolution, with slight hints of coconut, although a minor cardboardy note, that seems to be characteristic of Red Star, sounds a minor suggestion of alarm. Still, very little to worry about at this point.
Likewise the flavour is all comfort. Similar raisin and blackberry in the frontal flavour ensure few surprises, and the continuation into cocoa and coconut is likewise predictable. Just to show, however, some quirky interest, slight hints of cayenne and raspberry pop out, adding character. Nonetheless, on the whole this is a bar that will give relaxation, and the slightly piquant components are nothing more than a slight touch to prevent the flavour from sliding into tedium.
The melt, once again, stays firmly in the comfort zone with a reassuring creaminess and silky smoothness that is never jarring or abrasive. Everything in the taste, and indeed, in the total experience, conveys balance and refinement. If there is one word to summarise this chocolate, it would be control: a control so total that Red Star leaves absolutely no question as to their complete mastery of process. One is inevitably reminded of Michel Cluizel, who, albeit stylistically very different, likewise has that same character of almost-scientific refinement – so that one always feels his bars are the end product of a meticulous, painstaking, considered process. This is an important development for the UK chocolate industry, because it demonstrates a process maturity, as opposed to a wild experimentalism, that should establish British chocolate-makers as equals with their peers in France, or Italy, or the USA. The UK has arrived as a force in chocolate-making, and this bar is the badge of their achievement.