Zotter announces that they mean business, with this bar as part of a 2-bar set (with companion 100%) at the top of the range. Such high percentages demand a lot from bean and processor, so clearly Zotter is making some claims about their capabilities as well as their sources. It would seem this is the “elite” chocolate of the set – featuring at least if the claim is true, Porcelana beans, making it the first organic chocolate to do so, at certainly raising the expectations! A bit of a puzzling decision, then, to put it as the 90%. If these are really the best beans, why not make it the 100%? However, at this high a concentration, few are likely to quibble over the difference – either way, this is strong chocolate.
Alex Rast: 13-Nov-2010
Zotter acts a little coy on the label with their “one of the best in our house”: there is no need to mince words – this is the best in their house. Here is a chocolate about as elite as it can get in organic: if the description is true, this bar contains Porcelana beans – at least for what that term means. Here, however, it means a bar of amazing depth and character, which would stand out in any manufacturer’s line. There can be no doubt Zotter has positioned this as the “flagship” bar, and a distinguished flagship it is, a demonstration of the art of chocolate production in every way, from grower to manufacturer.
Right out of the package, this bar speaks elegance. A lovely deep red-brown and almost perfect finish betoken a bar made with care. But while appearance may be distinguished, it’s the aroma that really stands out, one of the most unusual yet alluring aromas ever achieved in a chocolate. The upfront character is surprisingly herbal, minty with a hint of marijuana. In the middle it becomes more typical, taking on a mix of woody and earthy, but then hints of liquorice and strawberry demonstrate something far more pedigreed happening here. In very few chocolates may it be said that in the aroma one senses one is genuinely “seeing the bean”; this is one of them, and it suggests that this chocolate may be closer to wild cocoa than cultivated.
If the aroma was already exciting, the flavour only adds to the excitement. A mighty wave of treacle flows down from the first taste, more powerful that just about any chocolate has ever been. Suspicions that this might be a one-sided flavour quickly disappear, as woody and coffee first arrive, then make way for lovely raisin with a strawberry hint. It doesn’t end – a hint of hay in the finish reveals that herbal character the aroma promised, and indeed suggests that this bar may well be a new experience each time it is tried. Rarely has a bar been this complex.
Texture is as normal for Zotter, accomplished, very smooth and super-creamy, with a very clean melt typical at such extreme percentages. It’s remarkable here that Zotter has revealed so much in this chocolate without giving it an austere characteristic common among such ultra-percentage chocolates; this one is powerful, yes, but welcoming, and does indeed bear out the hint that it’s got Porcelana beans in it. It can’t be emphasized enough how fortunate this is for the organic category in particular: it would have been easy to make poor process decisions even with a quality source and end up with a chocolate that not only didn’t do justice to the bean, but also soured opinion on the value of top-grade cocoas for organic chocolate. But here one feels that Zotter has gotten everything right and produced a chocolate that represents his masterpiece. High expectations, strong delivery; a formula for a winner.