Chocolate made by Bonnat for Friis Holm, using Indio Rojo cacao from the Xoco Gourmet project in Honduras.


Reviews

Alex Rast: 7-Dec-2011

Posted: December 7, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 9.5 5%
Length: 7.5 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 84.50 100%
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Source: Sample from distributor / supplier
Supplied by: Chocolate and Love
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In actual truth a blend of Honduras Indio Rojo and Nicaraguan cacaos (which the newer wrappers state clearly), this is a bar that, taken as a blend, is a clear success. Rarely do chocolates achieve this sort of effortless balance and power. There’s enough interest, meanwhile, to sustain the attention of those seeking more than just a basic chocolatey flavour, even though the latter is there in abundance. This might be one of the only blends to state origins – why should this be? Perhaps this can be the start of a new trend – the “origin blend”, with sources clearly noted but with a focus on balanced, even flavours rather than extreme, characteristic ones.

Out of the wrapper, the large bar looks intimidating, with a rather dark colour and good temper. Somehow, it manages however to look like a chocolate on the warm side, priming the taste for an expected luxurious, enveloping flavour. Nothing in the aroma, furthermore, does anything to dissuade this impression: it’s powerful and rich, starting with a mixture of cherries and woods, then proceeding to sharper, redcurrant notes on a winey, raisin background. Something very exotic – mushroom – appears, a bit reminiscent of some Pralus bars, and while this earthy characteristic might seem like cause for alarm, it actually adds sophistication and depth.

The flavour doesn’t necessarily have the complexities of the aroma, but it makes up for that in exemplary delivery. Three main components stand out: chocolatey, creamy and woody. What delivers the interest here is that instead of a predictable, inexorable progression from one to the other, the flavour cycles between them, something of the flavour equivalent of a Bach fugue; formal but still captivating. There is, it will be admitted, a hint of earthy cardboard, suggesting that the roast and conche might both be reduced slightly, but it is mild enough not to distract from the overall sensation.

Texture, meanwhile, is good enough almost to be a distraction, with its effortless ultra-smoothness and creaminess, something that’s becoming a Friis-Holm “signature”. But the distraction, if any, is of a pleasant form anyway, and it complements the amazing balance that is what truly is memorable about this chocolate. There are plans afoot for Friis Holm to deliver a pure Indio Rojo: surely this will be exciting, but if any possibility exists of manageable supply, perhaps this bar might be kept for its own sake? In the last few years the fine art of blending has, it seemed, been pushed into the background in the excitement over single-origins: this bar makes the case for quality blends as well as quality single-sources.

Stuart Robson: 19-Oct-2011

Posted: October 19, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 7.5 10%
Look/snap: 9.5 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 9.5 5%
Length: 8 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 84.25 100%
INFO
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Batch num:
Source: Sample from distributor / supplier
Supplied by: Chocolate and Love
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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The previous bars that we have seen under the Friis-Holm name have met with considerable praise. They have highlighted some quite unusual origins, been well made and with a clear emphasis on fine texture and refinement of character.  This new bar will draw attention as it shares its roots with the award winning  ’Honduras Indio Rojo 72’ from the U.K’s own Duffy Sheardown. I haven’t been completely sold on these Honduran beans yet but there is clearly intrinsic quality that, given that post harvest processes are sympathetic, will soon come to the fore.

Simply unwrapping this bar leaves little doubt as to the maker Friis-Holm is working with on these ‘own label’ bars. The mold, save for the name itself, is clearly that of Bonnat and the hallmarks of this well regarded maker are written well beyond the shape alone.  The colour is very attractive being medium brown and quite light with reddish highlights.  The finish is close to perfect also with a mirror shine, minimal swirling and a sharp, clean, high pitched snap.

The aroma comes across as notably subtle and with a certain creamy nuttiness. There are other notes on show here but they are delicate and fleeting; faint honey, a hint of undefined citrus and wood/leathery back-notes.  This isn’t an aroma that instantly draws you in but there is little to speak against it.

On the palette the flavours remain subtle but with a richly creamy undertone that adds considerable body to the mix. On delivery it is the almost oaken, woody notes that speak first before some light plum/yellow raisin and honeyed suggestions take over in the mid palette.  There is a slightly troublesome earthy, moss/mushroom note in the background but it remains faint throughout and fails to distract from what is essentially a creamy, deeply chocolately profile.  In the finish the tannins start to draw in alongside a little leather and a hint of walnut.  Texture, perhaps predictably considering the producer, is near flawless with a medium to fast paced melt and enviable smoothness.  I can’t help thinking however that this textural perfection has come at the loss of some intensity/character and that lower cocoa butter content and a less aggressive treatment might have helped to give a greater sense of the beans involved.

While I still believe we are yet to see the best from these Honduran Trinitarios this is clearly another well handled, highly enjoyable bar under the Friis-Holm label.  It is in keeping with the previous, Nicaraguan focused, releases and while  it certainly isn’t the most distinctive of bars the profile is well balanced and creamy with an emphasis on refinement that will please many a chocolate lover who perhaps isn’t in the mood for a Madagascan, citrus bomb.



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.