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Willie's 72% Venezuela: Impressions
May 17, 2009
12:25 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 283
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October 13, 2009
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OK, so with the accompanying media coverage it was time to try Willie Harcourt-Cooze's new 72% and see what it's like. My initial expectations were good in the wake of samplings of the 100%s.

Unfortunately the bar doesn't meet expectations, not yet. Aroma is very dark and blackberryish, almost like an Ecuador although with a hint of something citrus. However, it's the taste that needs work. It's clearly burnt, ashy and coffee through and through. I'm seeing that a lot from experimenting manufacturers recently, and I suspect that perhaps some bad information has gotten around about roasting times and temperatures. The ashy, astringent character serves to underscore a rather dry texture, furthermore, and it's a bit gritty. I think Willie's not adding more cocoa butter: good for him, but if you want to go that route the refining needs to be pretty high. Domori's the leader here. They go for very small particle size (sub-11 micron IIRC) which helps to give the proper smooth mouthfeel.

I think, though, that textural quibbles would disappear if Willie backed off on the roast, a lot. I think it needs both lower temp and shorter time. A work in progress to be sure. I'll put up a full review at some point but this seems a "prototype" bar rather than a finished version so perhaps I'll wait and see if the character stabilises.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
June 15, 2009
1:09 pm
chocolatero
london
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September 5, 2004
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For me, it is a chocolate that has not been processed enough. There is still too much acidity and astringency. Could do with more conching and more refining and possibly adding butter if the texture is still not right. After taste is very dry.
That being said, Willie always made it clear that he likes chocolate minimally processed so it's a logical choice for him and i admire him for sticking to what he likes/beleives in. I am not sure how enjoyable it is for people who are used to smoother and less harsh chocolate.

June 30, 2009
6:37 pm
Forest
Peak District, United Kingdom
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August 27, 2008
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While I like his cocoa liquor and use it in my talks...I was a little dissapointed in the San Martin. It didn't blow my socks off...put it that way.

July 29, 2009
11:12 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 283
Member Since:
October 13, 2009
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quote:


Originally posted by Alex_Rast

OK, so with the accompanying media coverage it was time to try Willie Harcourt-Cooze's new 72% and see what it's like. My initial expectations were good in the wake of samplings of the 100%s.

Unfortunately the bar doesn't meet expectations, not yet.


An update: I just tried the Peru, the other new sweetened chocolate from Willie. Happily, as much as the previous bar was a failure, this one is a success. The same overall style choices are notable: blackberry upfront aroma, strong dark roast with a coffee finish to the flavour, but the character is altogether different. Other things were happening in the aroma - cocoa, peanut, some tobacco, and this tobacco scent carries over into the flavour. There's also a much better initial raspberry spike to the taste profile. If the last one tasted burnt, this one has the same feeling of dark roast as a style choice rather than a process defect that characterises Pralus.

As I predicted textural quibbles, at least for me, disappear. You can still tell that it's got that coarse grain and dryish mouthfeel, but with the improvement in flavour it's no longer abrasive.

I wonder to what extent Willie is tailoring his roasts to match the beans? With the excellent result here, it seems that he should be able to find a better match for the Venezuela. I suspect its roasting profile would be radically different from the Peru.

Whatever the case, this bar is reason to be excited: an excellent, style-distinctive offering that gives reason to believe Willie will become an established name before too long.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Willie's 72% Venezuela: Impressions | Fine chocolate bar discussion | Forum