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

Domori – Papuandar

Domori – Papuandar

Domori at long last experiments with an origin that should be a good match for them: the distinctly spicy Papua New Guinea. They certainly bring out all the characteristics of the bean, and this is a fine effort, but in spite of it all it seems just a bit too componentised in flavour, never achieving ..

Pralus – Ghana Biologique

Rather like his conventional one, Pralus falls flat with an organic version of the Ghana. Here is a chocolate that never really gets going, fails to excite, and introduces nothing new. It’s nice, presumably, to have an organic African varietal representative, but Pralus should have thought more seriously about match of bean to style. Most ..

Pralus – Equateur Biologique

Pralus takes an organic bean and unfortunately achieves no better than his conventional one with an origin that should work fine with a dark roast. This one just never gets off the ground, remaining dull and uninspiring – a reminder of the bad old days of organic past. Luckily this is part of a set ..

Pralus – Republique Dominicaine

The Dominican Republic is the most well-known, and, arguably, the best of the organic origins overall. Pralus here introduces a chocolate that does the origin no disservice, even though there is some room for improvement. It’s nice, however, to have some style variety, with a good dark-roast Dominican in complete contrast to, say, the Cluizel ..

Pralus – Tanzanie Biologique

Excellent, rich Tanzanian that easily outshines its conventional stablemate in the Pralus line. There’s an argument to be made here for simply replacing the ordinary bar with this one, for with its dense raisin flavour so reminiscent of Amedei it seems Pralus has achieved complete mastery over the Forastero. Finally here’s a company getting serious ..

Pralus – Madagascar Biologique

Superb organic chocolate – at least once one can get past the idiosyncratic interpretation. Pralus’ rendition of Madagascar delivers completely different tastes from the usual, unsurprising given the dark roast. This is one of the first organics, however, not to suffer from badly earthy finish. It does need slight work, but on the whole, this ..

Guittard – Nocturne

A questionable foray into extreme percentages for Guittard, who prove that they’re best sticking to their guns and aiming for the 63-67% range. At this high percentage there is no room for mistakes and unfortunately Guittard makes many, leading to a charred, overroasted bar that may also have come from beans of less than the ..

Domori – Madagared

In spite of continued effort and commitment, and in spite of even higher pedigree than the Sambirano, Domori continues to grope somewhat with the Madagascar bean. It’s mysterious, for Domori’s style and Madagascar should go hand-in-glove as a perfect match, yet, once again, here is a bar that just seems a bit heavy-handed. Interesting flavours, ..

Domori – Javablond

At last Pralus has competition in the Java origin and Domori puts up a fine challenge and a satisfying alternative. It still delivers on the custardy and strawberry features of the origin while introducing interesting new characteristics that are reminiscent of another relatively nearby source: Papua New Guinea. Domori proves yet again that in the ..

Michel Cluizel – 1er Cru de Plantation Vila Gracinda

For years it has seemed chocolatiers just can’t hit the mark on Sao Tome – an origin with apparently lots of potential but up to now shaky delivery. No more. Cluizel comes up with the definitive reference for the origin in a bar superb in every way, retaining everything: the fruity up-front flavour, the deeper ..

Scharffen Berger – Antilles

With this blend, Scharffen Berger at last produces a definitive winner. Fruity as always, the chocolate manages however to avoid the really aggressive fruitiness of Scharffen Berger in the past. One gets the sense that the Dominican component may dominate because in some ways this bar is reminiscent of Los Ancones. But still, it’s mostly ..

Bonnat – Porcelana

Another entry in the increasingly competitive Porcelana category, this one from a chocolatier whose style might not be expected to match the bean quite perfectly. In fact, however, Bonnat achieves a very creditable result, perhaps not up to Domori just yet but definitely one of Bonnat’s better bars. It captures the fruity, creamy characteristics of ..

Valrhona – Chuao 2002

Valrhona’s remaining Chuao bars taste just as new and crisp as any other recently molded bar, showing no signs of stress from aging. Flavor-wise, the chocolate does not entirely resemble what one might expect from Chuao but with associations detached, the bar is actually very pleasant