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July 31, 2006
This is the third year of the Palmira vintage, a chocolate produced by Valrhona to fill the gap left by the loss of the original Chuao vintage bar, having lost their source of Chuao beans to Amedei. The chocolate is made from beans harvested in 2006, but was only actually produced in October 2006
Building on the huge improvement of the 2005 vintage, Palmira is now finally coming to fill the shoes of its predecessor. The flavours are just that bit more intense in the 2006, the chocolate pleasure heightened.
The bar has a good, red colour and a honey/tobacco aroma. Biting reveals at first a good chocolatey presence, followed by some almost sour, nut notes – reminiscent of that well known triangular shaped Swiss chocolate bar made with honey and nuts. There’s also an almost melon-like sharpness, extending into the length along with gentle mocha tones. A fine creation, made from Venezuelan criollo.
June 5, 2005
I just tried both the 2005 and 2006 bars for the first time. My notes are a bit different than what you posted above.
2005: I smell a fairly pure chocolaty aroma, with notes of cashew, spice, and a general sense of sweetness. I initially taste a nice deep and dark chocolate flavor with pepper in the background. Then the pepper dies off, and is replaced by a more distinct and dominant cinnamon flavor. Then a burst of fruity acidity appears with the flavor of pineapple. As the acidity builds, so does the earthiness, and the flavor shifts to acidic mushrooms and moss.
2006: This one smells strongly of leather, very different from the 2005. When I taste it, I initially note a sweetness and cinnamon. Then the acidic pineapple arrives, followed by leather which persists into the finish, yet changing subtly so as to never fall into flatness.
I do not find the flavors in 2006 more intense, just different. I noted more flavors in the 2005, but neither was lacking in complexity. In the 2006, I felt that the mood shifted several times, while in the 2005 the flavors developed as one continuous sequence. Yet, these mood shifts somehow feel natural and not overly abrupt, and are in no way unpleasant.
I think that both are very good. As of now, I do not prefer one to the other, but I will probably develop a preference for one or the other by the time I finish the bars.
To me, these bars were very different than anything else which I have tried by Valrhona; everything else tastes predominantly of either fruit or nuts (or a combination of the two) and completely lacks earthiness.