Here is another business model along “fair trade” lines, but with the additional benefit of processing locally as well as sourcing responsibly. As always, there are concerns over production quality: can a country with little infrastructure to support chocolate-production and presumably minimal expertise, produce a quality chocolate, no matter how elite the origin? This remains to be seen. At 80%, however, this particular bar is at an uncompromising percentage which suggests confidence in the process. If anything, indeed, the Madagascar origin suggests, with its mild flavour, a high-percentage as a starting point. Thus in the end here is a bar where it is difficult to know what to expect, and perhaps where the element of mystery is a large part of the appeal.


Reviews

Alex Rast: 17-Feb-2011

Posted: February 17, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 7 5%
Taste: 8 35%
Melt: 7.5 5%
Length: 6 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 78.25 100%
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Source: Own purchase
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Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)

A reasonable initial effort from one of the few companies making chocolate at source, and one of the most interesting interpretations of Madagascar yet. This one reveals entirely new flavours previously unhinted-at in typical European interpretations, with strong similarities to Colombia Nacional. Could we have here evidence of the genestock of the Madagascar plantations? However, in spite of a lot of interest this one does need some work; as it is it lacks the refinement and elegance of other manufacturers. As a first effort, it’s commendable, but as a Madagascar chocolate, regardless of manufacturer, it must be considered somewhat second-tier.

Out of the wrapper, the chocolate looks significantly darker than the typical Madagascar: dark reddish rather than leaning towards tan. Some Madagascars might be mistaken for a milk; not this one. Temper, while acceptable, shows some signs of being on the borderline and there is clear mould unevenness. Definitely something that suggests rather crude production! On the other hand, the aroma isn’t crude at all, but rather fresh and strong, with a dense fruitiness. Layers of raspberry, cherry, and strawberry mingle together, along with rich woody highlights, although jarring notes of coffee and smoke suggest that perhaps lighter roasting would have improved things still further.

Unsurprisingly, then, the flavour immediately leaps out in fruitiness, with cherry prevailing, now with a winey cast, but then unexpected darker flavours emerge: molasses and woods, although their distinctive tannic bitterness is modulated by a crème fraîche background.
Later the smokiness notable in the aroma becomes dominant, and this rather cuts off the length; the bar stops short as if pulled up by a brick wall ahead. Interesting early going, but the treatment seems to be a little rough.

They also need to get a better idea on melt; while the bar is perfectly smooth enough, it’s very dry, almost chalky, in the mouth It’s not clear why this results, with 40% fat being seemingly sufficient, but the effect is there. Meanwhile if they could also be a little gentler on the roast, the overall effect would surely feel more well-rounded. This bar comes off a bit like a stiff, square-backed chair: robust, but more uncomfortable than strictly necessary. On the other hand, Madécasse have revealed a different flavour dimension to the Madagascar origin than previously seen, so it’s a worthy introductions.



About the Author

Alex Rast
Alex Rast is a long-time chocolate experimenter, taster and part-time consultant to chocolate companies. Starting in 1990 with early experiments himself in making chocolate, he quickly moved into evaluating chocolates in commercial production and assisting other companies in improving process. Over the course of many years he has evaluated over 700 distinct chocolate bars. He is one of the earliest reviewers for SeventyPercent and has helped to define and systematise the ratings system. In addition to bar chocolate, he also experiments with chocolate baking and the formulation of "canonical" recipes for classic chocolate items.