The Dominican Republic is particularly well-known for producing organic chocolate, often with spectacular results, (e.g. Domori’s old Chacao, or more recently Sainsbury’s Organic 70%), but with the occasional spectacular failure (e.g. Dagoba Conacado). It’s a bit of mystery, then, why Theo hasn’t brought out a Dominican earlier, this being one of the most obvious possible sources, but whatever may be, here it is now. Given the incredible differences in end product possible this chocolate thus comes with its own unknowns: how will Theo interpret it? Also, to date this is probably the highest-percentage Dominican, thus it should be interesting to see how it fares in an extra-bittersweet. Theo gives a lot of reasons to try this bar.
Alex Rast: 13-Mar-2011
|Source:||Sample direct from maker|
Not a bad effort from Theo, and certainly no worse than many other extra-bittersweets, but in honesty, not a great deal better than many either. This one, in fact, has more of the feel of a blended chocolate than a varietal, being of a somewhat neutral flavour fairly typical of what one finds in such percentages. Of course, the Domican Republic is a broad origin, so it’s probable that Theo’s getting a blend of beans to begin with, but there is a bit of a sensation that with more well-matched processing the result might have been better. This, however, should not detract too much from what is ultimately a fairly fine high-percentage chocolate, and as the first such from the Dominican Republic, has its own interest to commend it.
Theo’s awe-inspiring appearance out of the wrapper is unmistakeable – slab-like and with basically ideal finish and temper. It’s dark, but not unbearably so, having hints of reddish that suggest more the ferocity of a dark roast than the harshness of bad beans. Indeed, the aroma is likewise very dark, with hints of woody, brown sugar, and coffee, but there is an interesting foreground play between a cherry fruitiness and a soft earthiness that leads one to expect a bit more than, perhaps, a really “black” flavour.
This impression remains true, but to an extent only just. Initially there is something of a non-descript fruitiness that can’t be said to match the conspicuous cherry in the aroma but can’t be identified clearly with anything else. This frustrating ambiguity continues with a hint of cardboard that moves towards earthy and coffee, all implying a very muddy end. But the finish lifts up a bit with acidic hints of vinegar and equally distinct molasses, preventing the bar from sinking into the depths. Acceptable but a bit bland.
The melt is rather on the dry side, although reasonably smooth, sort of again, acceptable but not out of the ordinary. It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Theo has gone with a standard processing profile for a high-percentage chocolate. Somehow the industry as a whole seems to have fallen into a mistaken understanding of extra-bittersweet, generally (and inexplicably) preferring this sort of very dark interpretation, one that does at most partial justice to the beans. Theo seems to have interesting cocoa to work with here, but it’s so hard to tell, and while there’s enough here to maintain some attention, on the whole this chocolate seems as though it would benefit from more adventurous treatment.