October 6, 2003
October 10, 2003
Yes, I have tried Amedei's Chuao, but not any of Domori's bars. In fact I find the particular Amedei taste (somehow tobacco-ish?) a bit strange, although I really like Porcelana. Chuao was a bit disappointing. The small Amedei bars Grenada and Venezuela are really good though, and so is their 66%.
October 14, 2003
Yes im a real Amedei fan and I much prefer Amedei's version of the Porcelana and the Chuao. A much richer flavour and a better balance in general with liquorice notes as well as the floral and fruity notes rahter than just one level of flavour - does that make sense?. Also ive had Domori and experienced a grittiness once which i really dont think is acceptable, perhaps it was a one off but mmm, it put me off and the taste wasn't as good anyway for me. Amedei dont as far as i know produce bars for the venezuela and other 5 single origins (apart from chuao and Porcelana) - just the small squares only available in the Cru selection - if they do can someone tell me where they sell them as the Jamaica is a really full on taste and I would love to be able to buy a whole bar. I have seen Amedei stories in the press (and Oprah) and they are meant to be the best chocolate in the world. Im not arguing with that. Try it im sure youll be impressed. I buy Amedei from Chocolate Trading Company (when not visiting Italy) as they have had the full range for quite some time now. As well as Michel Cluizel which is my second favourite but i wont go there as this is getting too long. Anyone else an Amedei fan?
July 31, 2006
I have a bar of the Amedei Chuao for review now. I did get some previously from Rome when it wasn't available in the UK, but it arrived without the box, and I think it sadly was tainted! So I decided not to include a review then.
The bar I have now is in the queue to review and should appear soon, and if anyone has an older bar from last year, still in good condition, I would be interested.
I'm thinking more and more that all chocolates to should be reviewed on a yearly basis, because after all each year's crop must vary, even if the bar is a blend. Oh no - more chocolate to eat!
July 26, 2003
Have you ever tasted any differences between years of bars? You mention in the review for Guanaja that you first had it in '93. Ever notice any differences? I know that Chocolove has discontinued bars because they couldn't get the right beans of high enough quality anymore. (I hope that doesn't happen with their organics. They're still out of stock!)
October 14, 2003
Martin, are you sure your not confusing Amedei's Chuao with Valrhona's Chuao, as I thought it was just Valrhona that states/sells the "vintage" on its two origin bars Chuao and Ampamakia?
Also, we are not talking wine here, cocoa obviously keeps longer and are we really to believe one harvest exactly produces one years supply? Im sure there are slight differences in taste, as if there would be if the bars were not marked with the vintage at all so whats the point really? Is it just marketing? Id be happy for someone in the know to perhaps come up with the facts on this one as its an interesting one.
July 31, 2006
Mmm, I don't think I would easily confuse Amedei with Valrhona! If I have then I'm not sure what I'm doing here!
Seriously though, all chocolate has a life, and it's not that long - 2 years max? There's no concept of improving with age, as there is with wine. The beans also have a limited life, though I'm sure this is extendable in industrial situations. For the fine chocolate producers - especially with origin chocolate, where the source is a small producer or area - consistent quality is not so easy. I'm not saying every year's production comes from a specific year's beans, but the smaller the source, the more likely this is. Given the limited production of Chuao it is very likely in this case. Hence the case for reviewing at least origin and varietal chocolate on a regular basis, complex blends like Guanaja may not need so much attention.
Excellent as Amedei are, they do have a reputation in the industry for variability in flavour, which may just be because they are on the cutting edge of varietal chocolate. I've not known Domori long enough to judge in their case, we shall see though!
Regarding Valrhona Chuao, given the different claims by chocolate makers to have 'exclusive' rights to the Chuao production, and the fact that Valrhona's current bar is not nearly as good as their 1999 offering, you can draw your own conclusions ...
October 14, 2003
Martin, I have looked around and I can only find Valrhona that produce a vintage chocolate - not Amedei as you write. So when I suggest you may have mixed this up i was only trying to understand what you are saying. So your saying Amedei do produce a vintage as I would love to sample this and would like to know where it is available if you would be so kind to point me in the direction.
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So could you please clear this one up for me as I thought id tried all of Amedei's fine collection but your saying ive got more goodies to come, or not possibly depending on the confusion?
And what do you mean at the bottom of your post about the exclusivity thing, are you suggesting Valrhona are not actually using Chuao? and that this is perhaps the reason you say their new 2003 is not as good as the 1999 (what about the 2002, 2001,2000).
Very intriguing im dying to hear back.
November 11, 2003
mmm yes its definitely only valrona that produce a vintage, so Martin, about what your doing here? :) And i have just bought the new Valrhona Chuao 2003 from chocolate trading company so ill let you know when it arrives tomorrow. Also bought the 2002 to compare. Would be good to hear the outcome of the above as I love a bit of gossip although i have to admit its not very proffessional whoever the brand that is being refered to. Ill make my own mind up thank you.
July 31, 2006
'Vintage' is just a marketing term Valrhona have employed! There is no confusion - I am just suggesting that fine, origin chocolate is more likely to vary from year to year than a blend such as, say, Cadbury's Dairy Milk. Therefore, the reviews on this site should be updated regularly. That is my only point.
I haven't sampled the 2003 Valrhona Chuao yet, but the 2002 was not as good as the 1999, for me. As regards the source, if three chocolate makers produce a Chuao chocolate, and two of them claim to have an exclusive supply, something is going on - I would be happy if anyone can enlighten me.
September 30, 2003
I tasted the Valrhona Chuao 2003 at lunchtime. It is a bit creamy and sugary- a rich man's milk chocolate! That is a very rough first impression. I liked the Chuao 2002 but have not tasted earlier years of it.
PS the Ampamakia 2003 is not at all the fruit explosion the 2002 was, again a rough first impression.
September 7, 2003
lots of hubub here. It seems some people are shopping elsewhere, but I like to shop here, where I can get plenty of good information about the chocolate I buy. I have shopped for chocolate elsewhere in england, but i had problems with recieving less than what I ordered.
Anyhow, those who are unsure of which chocolates are produced by which companies might do well to check at the company websites. Those links are somewhere on this site...
best wishes, and happy tasting
Oh no! My Agustus!
July 31, 2006
We've been asked to remove the quote that was previously given in this thread about one of the chocolates, so apologies to those who had their posts edited.
What I would add though is that many of these small scale production bars - where the beans come from a small source - are made regularly from batches of beans throughout the year. So it is always possible there will be some variation, that is the nature of fine origin chocolate and part of the joy. Very different to the other end of the market where year on year you are given a single homogenous flavour.
October 13, 2003
August 1, 2006
October 10, 2003
I think Porcelana is all but one dimensional. In fact I find it slightly smoother than Chuao and therefore the richness and variety of flavors are even more significant. I may agree that Chuao is better in some senses. I have got hoooked on making Chuao pralines, mousse and sauces. Chuao goes extremely well with melted butter, for example in the most simple mousse ever; melted chocolate and butter whisked. Yummi!
August 1, 2006
I think I actually prefer Amedei's Porcelana over their Chuao. I think it's a much more complex chocolate, and I just fell in love with the inherent creaminess of the bean. The slightly smoky/woody overtone doesn't bother me as much as it should, I suppose, but I somehow look around it. Although I love aggressive and strong chocolate, I really appreciate the delicacy of this bar. The Chuao has a fruitiness reminiscent of red berries and even a light blueberry touch.
I don't know; I need to taste them both again and determine a favorite, if that's possible. They're both so good.
May 16, 2004
Amedei's Chuao is currently my absolute favorite chocolate. (For comparison, I've tried basically all of Valrhona and Cluizel, some Domori and Slitti, and lots of other things here and there.) I managed to get a 1kg block of it from a local retailer for $45, and it singlehandedly changed my view of chocolate. Having so much fantastic Criollo available allowed me to really see what it tastes like, and made me realize how much worse most other chocolate is. It's as much of a mixed blessing as learning to appreciate dark chocolate in the first place - simpler stuff doesn't taste as good, but I've discovered the real thing. Amedei Chuao makes me understand how the Aztec kings must have felt.
Anyway, once I discovered this stuff, I started to do some reading online to learn more about Amedei and the legends behind the Chuao plantation. I was particularly interested to find out why this stuff was so different from the Valrhona Chuao (2002; the 2003 seems to be better, as I've commented elsewhere.) What I read made me even more curious. It seems that Amedei has the exclusive rights to the beans from the Chuao plantation, and they have plenty of reason not to want to share with Valrhona. Moreover, the Chuao plantation has received an appellation of origin for their cacao, though I'm not sure what methods they use to enforce it, or whether they're actively doing so.
- From an article ([url]http://www.amedei.it/en/gambero_rosso.htm[/url]) in Gambero Rosso, October 2001:
"The [Chuao Impresa Campesina] agricultural company agreed [in November 2000] to deliver all the cocoa grown in Chuao to the Amedei company for seven years, after which time, Amedei would still have rights to first-refusal regarding the price."
"In the meantime, Valrhona depleted its stores of chocolate, producing a chocolate bar made with pure Chuao cocoa which bears the following writing on its label: for every bar sold, one Franc will be donated to the impresa campesina in order to support the development and growth of the cocoa. But once all the stores have been depleted, it is better not to trust any Chuao that is not labelled Amedei."
- From an article ([url]http://www.micheleshah.com/index.asp?menu=6&datascelta=&id=160[/url]) in La Cucina Italiana, US Edition, September 2002:
"It wasn't an easy task for [Amedei chocolatier Alessio] Tessieri to win the trust of the campesinos of Chuao, cut out the middle man and convince Venezuelan government officials to transfer the exclusive rights of Chuao's state owned cocoa plantation to Amedei."
- From an article ([url]http://www.foodgatherers.com/amedei1Valrohnanil.html[/url]) in R+R Magazine, April 2003 (?):
"[T]he Amedei brand is the only brand that can legitimately claim to have the Chuao bean as part of its portfolio."
"Eleven years ago, when Amedei was starting out, Tessieri went to Tain L'Hermitage, to the head office of Valrhona, to try to buy chocolate to coat the pralines he was then making. He was given an appointment, tasted samples, met the export manager who explained the philosophy of Valrhona chocolate, but when he asked to buy some he was told no - Italy was not ready to accept chocolate of this quality."
- From an article ([url]http://www.wipo.org/freepublications/en/general/121/2004/wipo_pub_121_2004_01-02.pdf[/url]) in WIPO Magazine, Jan-Feb 2004:
"In order to protect this considerable national asset, an application for recognition of Chuao as an appellation of origin was filed in Venezuela on August 10, 2000 by Codet Aragua, Empresa Campesina de Chuao y MPC Aragua. The Declaration of Recognition was granted and published in the Official Journal of Industrial Property in November 2000. The grant protects the name Chuao and restricts its use to beans and cocoa products from that specifically defined geographical area, recognizing the influence of climatic and human factors on the quality of those products."
Of course, the super-high-end chocolate world is still pretty fringe, and there isn't a whole lot of demand for investigative reporting. The few articles on Amedei that I found kept repeating some of the same lines (they paid triple the market rate for Chuao beans, only three tons out of each 16,000 tons of Venezuelan cacao are Porcelana, Valrhona's snub of Tessieri in the early 90's), which made me wonder if Amedei had a good PR person helping them write them. On the other hand, Valrhona could just be relying on their brand to keep the sales rolling, while switching to a lesser blend of beans (or relying on an aging stock).
If anyone here knows anything closer to the facts, I'd love to hear it. But I suspect it'll be hard to get the straight story without someone from Valrhona volunteering information, and that seems unlikely.
May 16, 2004