Valrhona – El Pedregal

Valrhona – El Pedregal

New for 2011, a reincarnation of Valrhona’s earlier gift-box only Pedregal offering. Porcelana – a Venezuelan white-beaned criollo variety – is often considered to be the ‘champagne’ of cacao varieties. Sort after, rare and often imitated – many a white-beaned cacao is all too easily given the name. In reality, only a few genuine sources ..

Valrhona – Gran Couva 2010

Valrhona – Gran Couva 2010

The original plantation cacao bar, from a source first suggested to Valrhona by Robert Linxe of La Maison du Chocolat. Also the first bar to really be marketed by its year of production or ‘vintage’. (Though laying down for 100 years is not likely to improve the chocolate!) First produced in 2002 (if memory serves ..

Valrhona – Ampamakia 2010

Valrhona – Ampamakia 2010

The 2009 Ampamankia could have been seen as something of a hard act to follow, and while little improvement has been made in 2010, Valrhona has succeeded in losing very little of the charming character that made last year’s bar so enjoyable. Arguably though, this doesn’t quite have the full magic of the previous years ..

Valrhona – Alpaco

An unfortunate flop into Ecuadorian territory, Valrhona fails to deliver any sort of cocoa intensity but does manage to deliver good, albeit stifled, notes that are characteristic of the origin and beans

Valrhona – Taïnori

A chocolate with plenty of potential that could one day be among Valrhona’s top shelf bars. Comparing most likely to Domori’s Chacao line or, for ease of accessibility, Valrhona’s own Araguani, Tainori is powerful, dark, and replete with good flavor, showing that Valrhona still isn’t afraid to break its own mold

Valrhona – Le Noir 68%

Is this an attempt by Valrhona to move towards a more “mass-market” product? Certainly the way it’s being distributed and described makes one wonder. Unfortunately, the taste makes one wonder too: this is a chocolate of a lower standard than Valrhona usual. If they are not trying an ill-advised foray into “cheaper” chocolate this one ..

Valrhona – Chuao 2002

Valrhona’s remaining Chuao bars taste just as new and crisp as any other recently molded bar, showing no signs of stress from aging. Flavor-wise, the chocolate does not entirely resemble what one might expect from Chuao but with associations detached, the bar is actually very pleasant

Valrhona – Palmira 2006

Maybe just slightly less accomplished than previous Palmiras, this one retains the rather surprising, unfamiliar progression of flavours that previous vintages have offered. “Slightly”, it must be emphasised, is a critical modifier: by any reasonable standard this is excellent chocolate. But with a somewhat blander, sweeter profile one wonders if Valrhona might have done well ..

Valrhona – Abinao

Unfortunately, Valrhona demonstrates either its lack of mastery or unsuitability of style with ultra-percentage chocolate once again. What one might hope would be an improvement on the lackluster Noir Extra Amer turns out, if anything, to be a diminishment, and the resultant chocolate arrives harsh and difficult. Valrhona teases some interest early in this chocolate ..

Valrhona – Tanariva

Amazingly, Valrhona has managed to get character and interest in a milk chocolate even at a shockingly low percentage. This one will shake your ideas about what such milk chocolates are like. Not at all the sweet, candylike substance one normally expects at 33%, this reveals interest and components very characteristic of Madagascar. Worth trying ..

Valrhona – Palmira 2005

A maturing chocolate no doubt, Valrhona gives a glimpse into the bright future that Palmira could experience if they continue to tweak it to perfection. Let us cross our fingers and hope Valrhona realizes the potential that lies within their grasp

Valrhona – Ampamakia 2005

A huge improvement over last year’s vintage, 2005 sees a more refined and elegant Ampamakia, a chocolate that shows Valrhona is once again in control

Valrhona – Gran Couva 2005

An unfortunate year for Gran Couva, 2005 sees a different chocolate than in years past. Gone are the subtleties and complexity of yesteryear and in goes a uniform profile that leans to the sweeter, candy-like side

Valrhona – Ampamakia 2004

2004 definitely displayed marked changes in the two well-established origins, as recollections from previous years conjure up chocolates that were much softer and gentler. Even timid Ampamakia showed a stronger nature, one that’s much more characterized and certainly what many would regard as surprising. Highly acidic and alcoholic in flavor, this is just a bit ..