January 28, 2011

Valrhona – Ampamakia 2010 – review – Martin Christy

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Written by: Martin Christy

Ampamakia has always been a personal favourite – the typical citrus notes of Madagascar always appealed to my palate. Added to Valrhona’s fruity acid style this makes, for example, Manjari almost always a winner.

Ampamakia takes this further, and for some years the result is pure lime cream bliss, with some criollo chocolate undertones. This was the case in the early vintages up to about Around 2006 and again in 2009. The latest crop doesn’t quite make it, dropping off towards the end, but is still at the top of the pack when it comes to Valrhona chocolate.

Ampamakia 2010 - unwrapped bar

Ampamakia 2010 – unwrapped bar

The look is light burgundy/brown. Not the lightest roast, but could easily be mistaken for a dark milk. The moulding of course up to Valrhona’s typical quality. (Helped by the soya lecithin and Valrhona’s super-sized production).

On the nose this is very clean, typically criollo with dusty cocoa, cream and hints of the lime intensity to come. Also typical is the low liquorice/dark fruits/light tobacco undertone that’s usually around in a Madagascar. Ampamakia does it better than most though.

Valrhona - Ampamakia 2010 close up

Ampamakia 2010 close up

The taste is a journey with lots of promise, rising lime and cream, mango, apricot, hints of cinnamon, deep chocolate. The acid is just a little overdone though, like a balsamic that will be better with a few more years maturing, which really comes out in the third act.

This leaves the length going into sugared grapefruit rather than sweet lime. Still good, but the 2009 was everlasting lime delight. Perhaps there’s just a little over-fermentation of the cacao this year. Finally, after 30 seconds, there’s devon cream left on the tongue.

There’s a lot of cocoa butter here, so the chocolate is verging on glutinous, and also there’s the ‘dust’ effect that seems to come with criollos, but on the whole the melt is warm and delivers an overall chocolate tone – with a hint of toast – very well.

I long for the 2009, but 2010 is still a pretty good substitute.

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.



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