In the third of their “prestigious vintages” series, Pralus ventures into a bean/origin not so heavily promoted as Porcelana or Chuao: Cuyagua. Indeed, only one other specific instance of this origin has appeared in the past, so in many ways this is a completely new experience. With Pralus’ make-or-break style, the real question is whether the bean is suitable. Certainly Pralus’ own information on the bar suggests so, but here is a bar nonetheless aimed at the adventurous experimentalist rather than the cautious conservative.
Alex Rast: 8-Jul-2012
One of Pralus’ more interesting bars, a source not often seen, and which in this case seems to play to Pralus’ strengths reasonably well. Pralus’ own blurb on the box strangely rather diminishes it by too much comparison to Chuao – as if to imply this is something of an “also-ran” origin. While it will be admitted that, in comparison to the superb Chuao for which Pralus’ style is a match-fit, this bar isn’t in quite the same exhalted league, it is perfectly capable of standing on its own and it also must be said, is considerably more successful than the Porcelana.
Not unsurprisingly, the bar out of the box has the sinister dark appearance common to most of Pralus’ work. Moulding is a bit rougher than perhaps is typical, almost implying a test batch. The aroma, however, is quite refined, even if it is a bit one-sided, reminiscent of smooth woods and with hints of olive and blackberry. Definitely dark and foresty. A slight hint of cardboard does suggest minor overoasting, perhaps, but is this simply a modulation on the woodiness?
Oddly, the flavour initially provides no answers, seeming strangely non-existent until the reason becomes clear: it’s a pure, almost perfect chocolatey taste, with a marginal hint of vanilla and cream. Taking its time, the flavour ultimately morphs into coffee and brown sugar, staying with the ultra-balanced smooth profile Pralus has achieved here, although with traces of peanut that again, suggest mild overroasting. Still, this seems a small price to pay for balance this refined.
Likewise, the texture is smooth and very refined, with ultra-creaminess that seals the stamp of elegance on what is a very graceful chocolate. Although one might imagine its appeal to be to the experimenter, in truth this is a bar that will please the lover of classic chocolate, with its ideal balance. Maybe its one failing is lack of excitement, and for this reason it doesn’t reach the heights of greatness, but it is certainly a very worthy bar and one that dignifies the Cuyagua origin.