Perhaps the most exotic of Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s eating bar range, and furthest from his original Venezuelan roots.
‘Indonesian 69′ turns out to be one of the most successful of his bars though, providing interest and an authentic representation of the cacao source.
We are not given too much detail about the bean source. Historically, Indonesia has some early criollo imports and then various waves of trinitario hybrids and ‘high productive’ forasteros in recent years. The flavour notes here suggest a good, non-industrial source.
A step forward in interest and flavour for Willie, proving that tasty – if rustic – chocolate can be sold at an affordable price.
Alex Rast: 26-Feb-2011
From the first bean-to-bar fine chocolate producer in the UK, a chocolate that indicates both improvement and a determination to be serious about fine chocolate. Willie’s has established a dark, heavy style that somehow seems appropriately British, although here the effect is decidedly lighter than some of his other offerings. However, it traverses the range of flavour experiences, bringing one of the most fully-dimensional chocolates into perfect perspective. There’s still, perhaps, some work to be done – one feels the finish isn’t quite as refined as it might be, but it’s hard to deny that this chocolate holds its own against the best competition in the chocolate world.
The idea to split the chocolate into 2 40g squares is inspired, making it possible to taste without compromising the wrapping integrity for all the chocolate, while at the same time providing a satisfying amount should you want the full 80g whack. The chocolate itself is a bit rustic in appearance, clearly uneven and with noticeable swirling and bubbling. A slightly ominous dark black colour isn’t exactly a great portent of things to come either.
However, the aroma completely eclipses any visual worries; it’s simply beautiful. Initial strawberry and milky notes mark a clear break from the dark, ashy bars of Willie’s recent past, and indicate a top-notch source. Hints of caramel give the aroma a nice richness, and woody notes with some molasses shows that the bar won’t be all light and bright – a setup for near-perfect balance. This is one of the nicest aromas ever in a chocolate. Nor does the flavour let down the side, delivering on the promised strawberry fruitiness right from the start, before moving to woody, cocoa central body, ending in a nutty finish. This is a superb, logical evolution, marred only slightly by a jarring intrusion of very sour grapefruit in the middle. Nonetheless the decisive break with the Willie’s early overroast is unmistakeable.
Texture, on the other hand, is poor, dry and rather coarse, as if minimal effort had been expended in the visuals and finish in order to put first things first and focus on the flavour. As a decision this cannot be faulted, if a compromise must needs be made, but it feels rather like that with a longer conche the textural problems would go away, all the while eliminating that aggressive citrus that was the one negative in an otherwise fine flavour. Not that the tweaking need go too far; this is a good chocolate, and too much fiddling might end up makiing matters worse. With the Indonesian 69, Willie puts forth a credible effort to be considered as a fine chocolate maker.
Martin Christy: 16-Feb-2011
|Source:||Sample direct from maker|
Light coloured as you expect from Indonesian cacao, though nothing nearly as ‘milky’ as something likeÂ Domori’s Javablonde’ achieves. Willie’s style is thick and rustic, giving us more of a thick thud than a light click on breaking.
The aroma is clean sweet tobacco and red fruits, with a little greenness and sulphur.
The flavour travels fromÂ tobacco/fruit, then into polenta, then rising prune notes, into ginger, fading into ginger biscuit. Light fruit and spice afterwards. Certainly strong and punchy, with a sharp almost leather spike at it’s peak. This really hits you, but is quite typical of the bean source. All this is probably helped by the Cuban raw cacao, which will have it’s own presence, addingÂ molassesÂ and fruit.
Texture is thick fudge, which comes from Willie’s ‘minimum meddling’ approach. (Though a lighter roast could take this a step further).
There’s a digestive biscuit / shortbread note in the after taste, which I often associate with over-stirring, making the fat (the cocoa butter) too ‘short’. I could be wrong though. Otherwise the after taste is pleasant if strong and not too tannic. There are slight metallic hints and a little waxiness towards the end, but the flavour gets you past these.
For me, this is the surprise star of Willie’s range, quite eatable despite the spikey leather/fruit punch andÂ delivering notes true to the bean source.