Another of the new wave of American chocolate manufacturers. Just how many producers the available supply can support is, of course, up for question, but it’s nice to see more people giving it a go. Rogue here starts with a familiar origin, having a very broad spectrum of interpretations, so what they might have to contribute also is a bit of a question; what more can the Sambirano origin reveal? The real benefit of companies like this may be spread of expertise: the more small-scale chocolate producers, the more knowledge can build about how to produce quality chocolate at a small scale, as opposed to the high-volume production methods that currently dominate the available literature and body of expertise. Perhaps companies like this can stimulate the concept of micro-volume local production.
Alex Rast: 29-Jan-2011
A foray into small-volume chocolate manufacture that ends up very much like Domori, this chocolate leaves no doubt about Rogue’s style preferences. One may argue the merits of different processing approaches, but there’s no denying that Rogue have set a clear style here, and one that does have affinities to the bean. However, much like Domori’s Sambirano, the effect here is perhaps a little too aggressive, and could be improved with more forceful processing. As an experiment from a small manufacturer, it’s worth trying, but in terms of overall contribution to chocolate, it can’t be said to offer a great deal more than has already come out.
An obvious problem, out of the wrapper, is Rogue’s distributor, (or is it the package design) – the bar received here was almost thoroughly smashed into bits, as though it had been sat on. This makes an assessment of its original appearance very difficult, although it does have a reasonable red-brown colour. Perhaps the finish was not quite of the highest possible order, but it looks to have been a reasonable job.
Aroma, however, suffers no such damage, coming out immediately and powerfully as pungent and spicy. The same hint of beef bouillon found in Domori emerges, and spicy notes overall dominate: cassia, cayenne, hints of liquorice. If any manufacturer can be said to have duplicated Domori, Rogue is it. Nor does the similarity end with the aroma: the flavour has a very similar progression too. It starts out with strawberries and cream, diverges briefly into a generic sugary and cocoa sensation, then reasserts itself, almost predictably, with spiciness: cassia and clove, along with a few traces of woody cedar.
Unlike Domori, this bar has a rather poor texture, being both rough and decidedly dry, just about the only characteristic that enables a clear separation between the 2 bars. That Rogue should have gotten a bar so close to an established and well-respected chocolate manufacturer demonstrates that they have a solid grasp of basic technique, and a vision for their style. What would help, at this point, is to introduce origins not being done by Domori, so that the same style can be seen in a wider range of beans. Here is a commendable effort, yet on balance perhaps not the best interpretation possible, and the number of times their “mentor” company, it would seem, is mentioned in this review indicates how inescapable comparisons will be!