Reviews

Stuart Robson: 25-Apr-2011

Posted: April 25, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 9 35%
Melt: 8 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 88.25 100%
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

A wild Beni produced by Felchlin for Original Beans, but to a different recipe than is used with Felchlin’s own “Cru Sauvage”.  A little confusing perhaps but with a few less than inspiring re-moulds of Felchlin’s classic Bolivian on the market, this may be a good thing.

The bar is well finished and with a fairly light, medium brown colour and good shine. There is little to no swirling or bubbling and the snap is clean and crisp.  All is as would be expected from a highly refined and well-regarded producer.

The aroma really opens the show here, being rich and full bodied. Golden sugar and lightly roasted coffee sit alongside the richly honeyed fruit tones that I always think of being classically Beni; light plums, fig jam, some fresh strawberry and the faintest hint of papaya.  The balance of this heady mix of aromatics is unquestionable, as is the desire to taste.

Taken onto the palette it is, perhaps predictably, the sweet honey that comes to the fore, soon being joined by tropical fruit notes reminiscent of Pakistani mango, backed by a deep, pure chocolate.  In the mid palette the fig jam and plum found in the aroma resurface but are lent a level of freshness by a little strawberry and cream.  The finish takes a turn into rich mocha, tobacco leaf and malted toffee with just the faintest of tannins.  This is a sweetly fruity, honeyed profile then with a superbly balanced, well integrated range of flavours that are rich and intoxicating, while still calm and harmonious.

The melt is medium paced and flawlessly smooth but feels rather thick and cloying.  This is something I often associate with Felchlin and is not usually to my taste.  On this occasion however, set against such a lovely profile, it fails to distract with any great significance.

Original Beans are clearly doing some commendable work within the growing countries and twinned with a respected chocolate maker there is little doubt regarding the potential.  Here they have clearly lived up to that promise, having produced the finest take on Beni I have tasted.  The greatest success here is in drawing out a range of notes whilst leaving intact the richly chocolatey, honeyed tones that characterise these beautiful beans.

Alex Rast: 9-Feb-2011

Posted: February 9, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9.5 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 9 35%
Melt: 5 5%
Length: 9.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 89.00 100%
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Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Another “wild” bean chocolate in the expanding category that have become popular ever since Felchlin introduced the concept with their amazing Cru Sauvage. If one is to be perfectly honest this bar is clearly from the same source, but still provides a distinctive “anchor” bar for a company with interesting ideas. But just as Cru Sauvage is, this bar is astonishingly exceptional, and gives a route to this source perhaps more accessible to the consumer than going through Felchlin. “Wild” chocolate could have become mostly a marketing concept with little substance in the form of chocolate quality to back it up, but here, it’s revealed to be really all one might come to expect.

Out of the box, the bar looks quite nice, even if it must be said that Cru Sauvage in its bar form was the incarnation of visual perfection. A characteristic light-brown colour shows good genes, and the moulding is equally reasonable – if some unevenness is apparent. But the aroma in this case trivialises the appearance, being simply awesome, with an unusual juxtaposition of brown sugar and redcurrant to start, a surprising hint of citrussy grapefruit reminiscent of a Madagascar, then a powerful mix of cedar and coffee bearing with it smooth tobacco highlights. It’s almost perfectly in balance and hits almost all the corners of the aroma spectrum in chocolate. One would almost think this were a blend.

The flavour surprises with completely different but equally noble sensations. First comes a distinctively sweet strawberry marshmallow, very similar to a Colombia Nacional, before proceeding to pure and unmistakeable chocolatey. Brown sugar and coffee then suggest a move to much darker territory, modulated a bit by nutty and creamy soft flavours, and then suddenly an unexpected hit of redcurrant completely relieves the heaviness and makes for a refreshing finish. Yet again the balance is unbelievable.

The only problem with this bar is the texture which is poor – dry and of merely average smoothness, athough this is possibly a style choice. Nonetheless problems must be pointed out in a bar that has so few. One would probably expect a wild food, of almost any type, to be more complex than its cultivar companions, given a probably more mixed genestock and certainly a more variable environment. Beni bears this expectation out in force. But here wild doesn’t mean unruly; it rather means untampered. This bar may bear out the “Original Beans” moniker – it might be the closest thing to the original cocoa that we will try.

Martin Christy: 30-Jan-2011

Posted: January 30, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 9 35%
Melt: 8 5%
Length: 8 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 86.00 100%
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Rating: 8.0/10 (4 votes cast)

A thin bar in an attractive mould with a ‘starburst’ design, each piece elegantly curved, giving some thickness on eating. Snap is a thick click.

Very lightly coloured, could be easily mistaken for a milk bar to the casual sampler.

The aroma is thick fruit, honey, tobacco, blueberry and strawberry jams. There’s the slightest hint of musty, acidic vinegar, but this is not too troubling.

Instantly alive on the tongue with strong molasses, followed by yellow fruits, floral honey, rising up steeply into strong blackberry jam and rum. Chewing brings out some butter, followed at the end again by molasses. Quite a journey. Length is mild toffee, yellow fruit, lightly tannins and developing back up again into a pleasant sweetness/treacle.

Very well made, as is to be expected from Felchlin. Melt is good, arguably a little glutinous, but this is not a problem at all as the flavour is delivered so well.

Definitive of the Bolivian Beni notes and easily the best of the Beni chocolates, and for me the best of the current Original Beans range. A huge improvement on the last Original Beans batch of Beni, and any of the other Beni Savi / Cru Savage chocolates also made by Felchlin.

The flavour profile is quite similar to the Bojesen Wild Bolivian, but Original Beans just pips it because of manufacturing quality (but then the Bojesen is still in development).

Either way, a huge move forward for Bolivia and Original Beans.



About the Author

Martin Christy
Martin Christy is Seventy%’s editor and founder and is a leading voice in the chocolate industry, promoting the cause of fine chocolate and fine cacao and those who produce them. With twenty years’ experience of fine chocolate, he has travelled extensively visiting cocoa plantations and meeting the world’s top producers and is a consultant to the fine chocolate and cacao growing industries worldwide. Martin is Judging Director of the International Chocolate Awards, which he founded in the UK with Kate Johns of Chocolate Week. He is also Acting Chairman of the new fine cacao and chocolate industry association, Direct Cacao and is a member of the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative Tasting Panel. He is also a freelance writer about fine chocolate, contributing to UK magazines and several books about fine chocolate.