While Patric has several Madagascars, this Rio Caribe is, so far, unique, giving it additional appeal. Arguably Rio Caribe is a more prestigious bean, or to be precise is an identified bean type, although many Rio Caribe efforts end up rather imbalanced. It seems the bean is difficult to “tame”, raising the stakes for a new manufacturer with surely much to learn, if also much to offer. However, Patric’s successes to date give confidence that this should be a chocolate worth trying, and possibly the flagship of the line.
Alex Rast: 27-Mar-2011
One of the best interpretations of the challenging Rio Caribe bean and surely Patric’s best chocolate. This one sparkles with a fruitiness that seems more well-resolved than competing offerings from other chocolatiers without yielding the wild, all-over-the-place effect so common in others’ efforts. Rather, this is a demonstration of control and clear decision about which flavour characteristics to retain and which to abandon. Ultimately, this may be the problem with the bean: it’s so complex that manufacturers can’t seem to decide what flavours to preserve and in an impossible effort to retain everything end up in bars that become a hopeless flavour jumble. Not here: Patric’s Rio Caribe is instead logical and consistent with its flavour and shows what a Rio Caribe can be like.
Patric’s unique appearance is obvious as soon as the bar emerges: well-tempered although not perhaps perfectly uniform, but with a pleasing medium-reddish colour to be expected of the source beans. Even more pleasing is the aroma, which is in the typical Patric style: very fruity, with strong notes of currrant and raspberry along with cherry. A darker undertone of wood, coffee and molasses helps to balance the aroma, and also serves to calm any worries about excessive brightness. These secondary aromas furthermore seem to flow naturally out of the primaries, like a clear evolution from light to dark. Very appealing.
The flavour unsurprisingly thus begins with fruits; specifically, currant. Quite soon evidence of some strength in roasting comes out, with coffee and cocoa appearing but quickly giving way to raspberry. Interestingly given the lack of vanilla, the flavour then softens into a taste that remarkably resembles vanilla, then gradually dies away in an earthy finish that, far from being harsh and leaden, is soft and gentle, a relaxing descent from the fruity high notes of the beginning. The overall effect is balanced and pleasant, avoiding the often bizarre flavour swings common to Rio Caribe.
Texture doesn’t interfere, although the melt isn’t exceptional, merely smooth enough not to be noticeably jarring. Where Patric really stands out here is in the process control. He has obviously chosen a roast and conche combination that reveals the best of the Rio Caribe while suppressing those flavours that really only add confusion to the taste. As a result this is one of the few Rio Caribes to be genuinely pleasant, an emotionally satisfying experience, as different from interesting, an intellectually stimulating experience. But Patric’s interpretation is both pleasant and interesting, and shows other manufacturers how to interpret this noble but difficult bean.