January 12, 2012

Valrhona – El Pedregal – Martin Christy

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Written by: Martin Christy

The colour is as you’d expect from Valrhona, medium brown with hints of burgundy. We know that porcelana can look lighter than this though, so we can guess at a medium roast.

Aroma is nuts, tobacco, spice, overlain with raisin and strawberry fruit notes and a hint of rose. Clean, crisp, light cream and slightly nutty, and chocolate of course.

The flavour is definitely full and fruity, (‘ripe fruits’, just as Valrhona describe), plus hints of merlot and a distinctive tang in the after taste. Spice hints push it towards mulled wine. Close your eyes though and think of nut paste or gianduja and you’re a lot closer to the classic porcelana signature. There’s a certain, but not unpleasant oilyness and the edge of bitterness you get with good hazelnuts. In the background hovers a dark hint of Laphroig. With time in the mouth the fruit slowly rises up, finishing on nutty cream. At the end an oh so slight hint of ash.

Length is long and stable – light cranberry juice with a nut background.

This is good and interesting and a great chocolate to eat, with some fantastically complex notes and a great, balanced aroma. It has perhaps though not yet reached the heady heights we’d expect from the varietal, lacking that ultimate hint of magic, but this is the first proper year of this new vintage. Let’s hope for even better in the future. Given the recent tailing off of Palmira – the Venezuelan vintage that this bar replaces – it’s a step in the right direction.

One thing is for sure though, this is a much, much better and more accomplished chocolate than the original pentagonal presentation box from 2005, weird and fun as that was.

About the Author

Martin Christy
Martin Christy is Seventy%’s editor and founder and is a leading voice in the chocolate industry, promoting the cause of fine chocolate and fine cacao and those who produce them. With twenty years’ experience of fine chocolate, he has travelled extensively visiting cocoa plantations and meeting the world’s top producers and is a consultant to the fine chocolate and cacao growing industries worldwide. Martin is Judging Director of the International Chocolate Awards, which he founded in the UK with Kate Johns of Chocolate Week. He is also Acting Chairman of the new fine cacao and chocolate industry association, Direct Cacao and is a member of the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative Tasting Panel. He is also a freelance writer about fine chocolate, contributing to UK magazines and several books about fine chocolate.



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