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 ..

Amano – Jembrana Milk

Having achieved spectacular success in mild milk chocolates with the Ocumare, Amano this time stumbles equally spectacularly with a chocolate that just never gets going. With a taste that hovers barely on the edge of perceptibility (which, it must be admitted, is the norm for 30%) Amano shows why greater percentages in milk chocolate are ..

Amano – Ocumare Milk

Possibly the ultimate chocolate for lovers of mild milk chocolates. A bar with amazing complexities, although it must be said, all variations on a sweet theme. It’s perhaps too bad that Amano chose such a mild formulation for an all-Criollo milk chocolate, but still the results are outstanding. With milk chocolate of this level, Amano ..

Bonnat – Marfil de Blanco

Bonnat again confound on manufacturer origin with an entry into the crowded Porcelana-type field with a name exactly matching one from Coppeneur. Are they both producing bean-to-bar? Impossible to tell. Whatever the case, Bonnat produces a fine chocolate but one which adds little in the Porcelana category. Worth trying for the experience but don’t expect ..

Guittard – Waialua Estate

Perhaps not the very first, but one of the earliest entirely U.S. bean-to-bar chocolates, this one makes its country proud. A superb exposition of a complex chocolate, hitting all the notes with clarity and interest. Rather reminiscent of Domori Porcelana – a comparison any manufacturer might envy! If this is the characteristic of Hawaiian chocolate, ..

Bonnat – Marfil de Blanco

Bonnat again confounds the production question with a series of Porcelana-type bars exactly matching a set from Coppeneur. Who is the actual processor of the beans? Or both? It’s unclear. Whatever the case, Bonnat’s Mexican offering is a fine bar no doubt, but adds little to the already-crowded Porcelana field. It’s interesting in its own ..

Bonnat – Marfil de Blanco

Bonnat again creates manufacturing ambiguity with a line of Porcelana-type chocolates exactly matching one from Coppeneur. Who’s the original manufacturer? Or are both? Whatever the case, Bonnat has created a fine bar here but one that doesn’t necessarily add much to the crowded Porcelana field. It’s interesting enough to experiment with but don’t expect something ..

Scharffen Berger – Tome-Acu

Scharffen Berger introduces, with their “chocolate maker’s” series, a fairly clear indication of where they are going. This bar is so markedly superior to previous S-B offerings that it appears clear they’re trying to create an “elite” range. If so they have succeeded, brilliantly, with a bar that places itself firmly in the ranks of ..

Theo Chocolate – Organic 74% Dark Madagascar

Theo wisely attempts to reformulate the Madagascar, but unfortunately improves nothing. Where the last time the problem was excessive boldness, here it becomes excessive one-sidedness. Is this an attempt to tame flavours that were all over the place? If so there’s still a problem. Madagascar usually needs a light touch, and Theo seems determined for ..

Theo Chocolate – Organic Dark Chocolate

A new effort at an organic bar from Theo, who make valiant attempt that seems successful at the start but is let down in the finish. It seems perhaps blending issues are to blame – some top-notch beans unfortunately mixed with some not-so-top-notch. Better sorting would seem to be necessary. If finish problems can be ..

Amano – Montanya

Amano, so long a company flirting with greatness but always it would seem at the brink, finally gets it entirely right with this chocolate from the heights of Venezuela. It doesn’t specify exact origin but one can deduce that it’s probably around Merida. In any case, this is the chocolate that finally delivers the depth ..

Amano – Jembrana

An interesting bright and fresh chocolate with a riot of flavours, one of the most complex bars you may ever try. It’s a bit of a pity that the flavours aren’t more well controlled, because they explode out from all directions without quite the sense that they’ve all been harmonised. The result is doubtlessly interesting ..

Domori – Teyuna

Domori again shows their mastery over fruity beans with a textbook rendition of the Colombia Nacional origin. With a length that is truly astonishing and new depths of flavour, this brings out the subtle characteristics of a bean that can easily turn cloying and candy-like in its fruitiness. More than any other manufacturer, perhaps, Domori ..

Scharffen Berger – Finisterra

Scharffen Berger’s 10th year in business deserves an excellent chocolate to commemorate the occasion, and that’s exactly what it gets. Finisterra showcases some interesting and complex flavor that might not be the easiest to detect but still comes off as noticeably distinct and worthy of the effort. Definitely more accomplished than the standard range of ..

Scharffen Berger – Semisweet

Scharffen Berger’s entry into the semisweet category may not be earth shattering but it is still very good and much better balanced than the other two dark mainstays of the product line. Also, it makes an excellent base chocolate for the flavored bars the company produces, so don’t miss those if you forgo this one