Valrhona’s annual release from Trinidad has seen some highs and lows over the years but things look pretty good at the start here. The colour is somewhat dark but has some touches of mahogany set against a typically well-tempered finish. The snap is fairly bright and the break particularly clean; all very Valrhona.
The aroma is robust and rich; hints of toasted nuts sit alongside lightly roasted coffee and liquorice root. A few slightly troubling notes of rubber and fresh plastic come and go. There are some mixed spices on offer also but the impression is rather vague, with only the typically undefined fruity cast so often displayed by this producer adding any high notes.
On the palette the initial impression is of sweet brown sugar, a splash of honey, clove and a hint of toasted hazelnut. This is a sweet profile overall but there is a brief spike of the aforementioned vaguely citric, fruity acidity in the mid palette though it quickly gives way to more earthy toasted nuts, tobacco leaf, leather and spices. In the finish things take a distinct turn into malt, candied ginger and more cloves, which bring this rather enjoyable yet monotone profile to a close. The melt is as expected from Valrhona, slow, even and near enough flawlessly smooth.
This is a decent year for Gran Couva, the profile is just as balanced, sweet, buttery and rounded as ever but here I can’t shake the feeling that had the roast been just a touch lighter, a few more characters might have had the chance to shine. With this in mind, the profile is a little vague and nondescript in 2010, and shows again that maybe the world of fine chocolate has moved on a little too fast for Valrhona. That being said, there is always a place for a bar that is well crafted, comforting and familiar; in this, Gran Couva certainly succeeds.