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What happened to the Top 10?
January 25, 2006
8:29 pm
asmokemezzo
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What on earth happened to Noir Infini on the top 10? It disappeared and Lindt 85% was promoted to #2 in its absence – that’s outrageous! Does anyone else think this is a travesty and miscarriage of justice? :)

(I admit, I am slightly obsessed with Noir Infini at the moment)

January 25, 2006
10:24 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Much to Martin’s delight, and to my dismay, Noir Infini has been removed from the top 10 because it is considered a “flavored” bar due to the spices and orange blossom that are added. It’s still in the database, but it’s type has been changed from “dark” to “flavored,” and as a result, it has no impact on the top 10.

Lindt Excellence 85%, as mentioned in another post, varies in ingredients according to part of the world, and the versions that were reviewed on the site are apparently unlike the others. I found it to be quite excellent.

February 16, 2006
3:10 am
Eshra
Southgate, USA
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asmokemezzo,

I am inclined to agree with you. Although I like Lindt’s 85%, I cannot understand it being ranked as the number 2 bar in the world. This, to me, seems a huge affront to the world of fine chocolate.

I put it to you my fellow chocophiles, would you take a bar of Lindt’s 85% over Domori Puertomar? Or how about over a bar of Amedei Porcelana? How can one accept this bar over Los Ancones, a chocolate riddled with complexity and ever-to-be-discovered nuances?

Anyone else agree?

February 17, 2006
2:33 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Did you read the reviews? I think an explanation is in there somewhere? Anyway, this has already been addressed:

http://www.seventypercent.com/…..rms=Galler

[:)]

July 3, 2007
3:44 am
bradyb
New York, USA
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June 10, 2007
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I know that Bonnat Chua was previously and intentionally left off the top ten list due to it’s questionable origin. I see that it has now been included in the official rankings and stands at #2. What brought about the decision to add it to the list. And too bad for Felchlin Cru Savage, which now has presumably dropped to #11. I could suggest a way to get it back!

July 3, 2007
3:11 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
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I still can’t get over having Lindt’s 85% bar in the top 10 ranking. Though the US bar has received high marks from the official reviewers here, does anyone else agree with its extremely high ratings?

July 3, 2007
7:51 pm
confiseur
Switzerland
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October 14, 2005
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..Lindt’s 85%, ranked currently no.3 in the world?..you cannot be serious…someones having a laugh here.

August 9, 2007
8:56 am
Nicholas Zukin
Vancouver, WA, USA
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I’ll just say that I think Bonnat’s chuao bar is WAAAY overrated. But I feel that way — even moreso — about the Lindt 85% as well, unless the ones I’ve tried from World Market are somehow different. I don’t think I’ve tried that specific Guittard. Not sure. But I’ve been unimpressed with any of their offerings. There are a lot of mid-60s bars I like better. I also think the wrong Domoris are in the top 10.

I think my palate must be sharply different from the chocophiles in charge.

August 10, 2007
12:16 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by Nicholas Zukin

I’ll just say that I think Bonnat’s chuao bar is WAAAY overrated. But I feel that way — even moreso — about the Lindt 85% as well, unless the ones I’ve tried from World Market are somehow different. I don’t think I’ve tried that specific Guittard. Not sure. But I’ve been unimpressed with any of their offerings. There are a lot of mid-60s bars I like better. I also think the wrong Domoris are in the top 10.
I think my palate must be sharply different from the chocophiles in charge.


Fortunately, you’ve given a list of your favourite chocolates, so it’s possible to take a stab at your likes/dislikes. As it happens, your preferences are somewhat scattered, but there are some themes. It would appear you like nutty flavours in your chocolate, particularly if they’re somewhat vegetal, like, for example, pistachio. Another interesting characteristic is that you seem to like the blacker fruits, e.g. grape, blackberry, etc. If you can find it, I recommend trying Coppeneur’s Tsachila. This should very closely match your ideal. Almost as close, again from Coppeneur, would be the Hacienda Iara. And L’Artisan du Chocolat have just come out with a Dominican Republic that I think you’d be pretty interested in as well.

Most of these will probably be difficult to get hold of in the USA, but it wouldn’t hurt to try to find out.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
August 10, 2007
7:28 pm
Nicholas Zukin
Vancouver, WA, USA
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Actually, both the Tsachila and the Iara, I believe, are at Cacao here in Portland. I believe I’ve tried them both. The tsachila is enjoyable but too expensive relative to others that I enjoy to be worth buying on a regular basis. I wasn’t overly impressed by most of the Coppeneur stuff I’ve tried, but I don’t have notes on them. I really tend towards Cluizel and Valrhona. I generally find Amedei too subtle.

Yeah, I know my prefs pretty well. I tend towards fruity chocolates, chocolates with low astringency, especially in the finish, and chocolates with a classic “chocolate” profile. Definitely tend towards criollo for bean and Madagascar and Venezuela for origins, and a lot of my favorites are in the 65 to 70% range. I despise heavily roasted tasting chocolates, chocolates with a cheesey/moldy flavor, and chocolates that are too leathery. If I eat a Pralus tasting pack, I’m likely to spit out half the chocolates. But I’d devour a Valrhona Palmira.

August 11, 2007
3:51 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
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Amedei subtle? I never thought Amedei in this way. Their Chuao bar is one of the most complex yet distinctive bars in the world, including several pronounced transitions. All Amedei bars have a distinctiveness about them and I could easily pick one out in a blind tasting.

Bonnat’s Chuao is nowhere near as good as Amedei’s version. In the case of the Bonnat bar, there is far more cocoa butter apparent in the bar and it really just covers things up…

If you are after simple chocolaty goodness, which has some nuttiness in the foreground and absolutely no astringency, go for Amedei Porcelana. That bar contains the quintessence of the chocolate flavour…in terms of a Criollo.

Sean

August 15, 2007
7:22 pm
Nicholas Zukin
Vancouver, WA, USA
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I agree the Amedei Chuao is interesting and complex, but I went and ahead and opened a bar (I have both it and the Porcelana here at home, luckily), and I still find it rather subtle. A lot of bars as they melt in my mouth and I chew them, change their character dramatically. Amedei’s have this eveness to them that requires me to concentrate more to distinguish the flavors. Every time I’ve had an Amedei I’ve thought the same.

August 16, 2007
12:10 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by Nicholas Zukin

I agree the Amedei Chuao is interesting and complex, but I went and ahead and opened a bar (I have both it and the Porcelana here at home, luckily), and I still find it rather subtle. A lot of bars as they melt in my mouth and I chew them, change their character dramatically. Amedei’s have this eveness to them that requires me to concentrate more to distinguish the flavors. Every time I’ve had an Amedei I’ve thought the same.


Hmm… yes, I tend to agree with Eshra that this experience isn’t typical with Amedei. Actually, the “evenness you describe I think of as a hallmark of Cluizel, who usually has the most balanced flavours and the most refined overall sensation. Amedei tends to be very bold, coming out strong.

I think when you think subtle what you’re really meaning is an absence of high-frequency, sharp components, things that are either strongly sour or strongly bitter. That would also be consistent with what I speculated is a preference for nuttier flavours. So chocolates which were either strongly tannic (however good) or strongly fermented would be ones you’d lean away from. Domori’s Sambirano, for example, appears to have a pretty strong ferment, accentuated by minimal conching time. Pralus’ Sao Tome has powerful tannins (in fact, a tannic bite is typical of the Sao Tome origin). I’m guessing these would be ones you’d be less than satisfied with.

When I think of bold as compared to subtle, I think of it more in terms of flavour power and “bigness”. A bold chocolate will come on strong with great intensity and have a very dominating, enveloping quality to the flavour. A subtle chocolate by contrast has a rather mild flavour and, far from being dominating, can actually be pushed into the background by other flavours. Amedei Chuao is, indeed, the very archetype of a bold chocolate. Again, by contrast Guittard Chucuri is a very subtle chocolate.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
August 16, 2007
1:46 am
Nicholas Zukin
Vancouver, WA, USA
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“I think when you think subtle what you’re really meaning is an absence of high-frequency, sharp components, things that are either strongly sour or strongly bitter.”

Well, yeah, that’s what I think of as “subtle” when talking about flavors — both something that doesn’t hit you in the face with certain flavors. As opposed to “bland” which would just be something without flavor. Or perhaps “subtle” is an enjoyable “bland”. ;-)

Yes, you’re right about my tastes. I tend away from the tannic, bitter, and astringent. (As a note, I don’t like beer at all and can’t stand a cabernet sauvignon.)

I’ll have to test your theory about Amedei. I feel like it would get lost while being eaten with another food, say nuts or fruit. But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps it is bold yet even.

July 23, 2008
5:21 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
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I could not help noticing that Martin recently wrote up a review for Lindt’s 85% bar (US version). I am happy to see this bar off of the top 10. The overall candy-like qualities are evident to the senses.

Sean

July 26, 2008
3:59 pm
bradyb
New York, USA
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Wow! What a surprise to see this particular change in your top ten. This was the idea behind my suggestion from an earlier post to get Felchlin’s Cru Savage back in the top 10. So, I see Martin recently reviewed Lindt’s 85 (US version) but the review by Hans is dated 2005. The bar should have never been in the top 10 if Hans’s review was factored in. Looks like it was a social experiment by seventypercent.com review team? Why else would have Han’s review been withheld. It might deserve and explanation. I was always annoyed to see this Lindt bar in the top 10 but found the controversy interesting. I also considered that by changing the ratings this late might give a hit to the credibility to the rating system if we can just write a bad review of a bar at any time to bring it’s score down? Don’t get me wrong, I think Martin reviewed the bar honestly, but his review is 3 years after the original. How similar are the bars at this time? Anybody else have any thoughts?

July 27, 2008
12:57 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by bradyb

Wow! What a surprise to see this particular change in your top ten. This was the idea behind my suggestion from an earlier post to get Felchlin’s Cru Savage back in the top 10. So, I see Martin recently reviewed Lindt’s 85 (US version) but the review by Hans is dated 2005. The bar should have never been in the top 10 if Hans’s review was factored in. Looks like it was a social experiment by seventypercent.com review team? Why else would have Han’s review been withheld. It might deserve and explanation.


I think Hans’ original review was also quite high, but this may reflect an updated view, possibly from a newer sample. Monte can you confirm this?

quote:


I was always annoyed to see this Lindt bar in the top 10 but found the controversy interesting. I also considered that by changing the ratings this late might give a hit to the credibility to the rating system if we can just write a bad review of a bar at any time to bring it’s score down? Don’t get me wrong, I think Martin reviewed the bar honestly, but his review is 3 years after the original. How similar are the bars at this time? Anybody else have any thoughts?


It seemed anomalous to me too – and in fact I can remember thinking it seemed like a fluke to me at the time when I reviewed it initially. I wasn’t expecting anything nearly at that level, so to be sure at the time I tried it again 2 times and got consistent results. I had to call it as I saw it, then – so the result was high.

I’ve not tried the US version recently, and as you say, times move on. Bean batches change. Lindt probably tries for uniformity throughout its bars but it would still have been a surprise to me if bars in later years reached the same standard. Also, the notion of quality is itself a moving target – because heightened awareness of the demand for good chocolate has created a flood of new and interesting chocolates that inevitably alter our perception of quality. That’s something the ratings system ought to track – shifts in relative and absolute quality in the same chocolate over time – through repeated tastings and updated reviews.

It’s particularly important to do this for the very great bars, not merely because they are most likely to be susceptible to vintage variations, but also because this helps to separate the lucky from the good, so to speak. It’s also useful anyway so that we can track annual changes in various locations.

One other bizarre note must be again mentioned with Lindt – why are they marketing different formulations of a chocolate to different countries? We can verify explicitly that the UK and US versions of the 85% are different, a move that makes no sense in the context of trying to create a global brand.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
January 27, 2009
7:46 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Sorry for such a late reply, but yes, my review of the Lindt Excellence 85% bar was updated since my initial posting in 2005. My current opinion of the bar reflects the batches in circulation at the time I posted my second, i.e. updated review and that bar was sent to me directly from Lindt’s corporate office in the US.

With the addition of cocoa powder to the bar it does move slightly closer in flavor uniformity to the Noirissime 99% bar, which also underwent some changes over the years. The first time I tried Noirissime, I wasn’t impressed but just satisfied, feeling it was a competent entry to complete the triad, especially in relation to the quality of the 85% at the time. Now, however, both have changed drastically, to the point where the 75% is the only success of the line, and even that bar is subject to constant change. Ironically, it always changes for the better, so I haven’t really worried about it lapsing into mediocrity…yet.