April 25, 2011

Original Beans – Beni Wild Harvest 66%

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Written by: Stuart Robson

A wild Beni produced by Felchlin for Original Beans, but to a different recipe than is used with Felchlin’s own “Cru Sauvage”.  A little confusing perhaps but with a few less than inspiring re-moulds of Felchlin’s classic Bolivian on the market, this may be a good thing.

The bar is well finished and with a fairly light, medium brown colour and good shine. There is little to no swirling or bubbling and the snap is clean and crisp.  All is as would be expected from a highly refined and well-regarded producer.

The aroma really opens the show here, being rich and full bodied. Golden sugar and lightly roasted coffee sit alongside the richly honeyed fruit tones that I always think of being classically Beni; light plums, fig jam, some fresh strawberry and the faintest hint of papaya.  The balance of this heady mix of aromatics is unquestionable, as is the desire to taste.

Taken onto the palette it is, perhaps predictably, the sweet honey that comes to the fore, soon being joined by tropical fruit notes reminiscent of Pakistani mango, backed by a deep, pure chocolate.  In the mid palette the fig jam and plum found in the aroma resurface but are lent a level of freshness by a little strawberry and cream.  The finish takes a turn into rich mocha, tobacco leaf and malted toffee with just the faintest of tannins.  This is a sweetly fruity, honeyed profile then with a superbly balanced, well integrated range of flavours that are rich and intoxicating, while still calm and harmonious.

The melt is medium paced and flawlessly smooth but feels rather thick and cloying.  This is something I often associate with Felchlin and is not usually to my taste.  On this occasion however, set against such a lovely profile, it fails to distract with any great significance.

Original Beans are clearly doing some commendable work within the growing countries and twinned with a respected chocolate maker there is little doubt regarding the potential.  Here they have clearly lived up to that promise, having produced the finest take on Beni I have tasted.  The greatest success here is in drawing out a range of notes whilst leaving intact the richly chocolatey, honeyed tones that characterise these beautiful beans.

About the Author

Stuart Robson
Stuart Robson is a passionate foodie born in Scotland and based in Hertfordshire whose main expertise lies in the world of whisky and chocolate. He first began tasting fine chocolate in 2005 with Valrhona Manjari and has since developed a particular interest in single origin bars and a desire to highlight skilled cacao farmers and artisan producers all over the world. Stuart previously trained in Paris while working for a fine chocolatier, and has since become a reviewer for Seventypercent. He is still involved in freelance consultation for small companies working with bean-to-bar chocolate producers and chocolatiers.


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