Red Star – Ocumare 55%
  • Our rating: 95.0% (1 review)
  • Company:
  • Cacao solids: 55%
  • Guide Price:
  • Description by: Alex Rast
  • Production: Produced directly from beans by maker
  • Certification:
    • None
  • Ingredients:
    • Cocoa beans
    • Organic cane sugar
    • Cocoa butter
    • Milk powder

Taste Profile:
A velvet-smooth mix of almonds, raisins, and raspberry jam

Red Star – Ocumare 55%—Chocolate Review Rating: 95.0% out of 100 based on 1 reviews.

Red Star – Ocumare 55%

Boldly introducing what other chocolate manufacturers seem to have shied away from, Red Star provides a truly elite-bean milk chocolate, and at gratifyingly high percentage. This is likely to mean extreme expectations, so the pressure is clearly upon Duffy to deliver with this chocolate. It’s a welcome sight, however, to see a chocolatier treating milk chocolate seriously, and maybe a model for others to follow; after all, it’s not all about dark chocolates.

Reviews

Alex Rast: 21-Sep-2012

Posted: September 21, 2012 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 10%
Look/snap: 5%
Taste: 35%
Melt: 5%
Length: 15%
Opinion: 30%
Total/100: 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
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The best milk chocolate that has ever been produced. Nothing can approach the complete mastery by which Red Star has created the definitive interpretation of a classic bean in a milk format. Here is a bar that shows both flavour complexities and astonishing balance. On the one hand it tastes intensely chocolatey and on the other the milk characteristic is still notable, the essence of what a milk chocolate should be like. With this chocolate Red Star takes a leap from good to elite among world manufacturers.

Out of the wrapper, the chocolate doesn’t yet hint at its greatness if one is to judge on appearance, although it certainly doesn’t look bad. A terra-cotta colour not too dissimilar from some very light Madagascans is certainly considerably darker and more pleasant that many pale milk chocolates, and the moulding is clean and well-done, if not specifically beautiful. However, appearance seems entirely beside the point, for the moment the wrapper is opened an intense fruity flood flows out in the aroma, smelling of fresh strawberries. Indeed, there is a fruit-and-nut play going on here, as hazelnuts are next revealed before darker hints of coffee and woody bring balance. A buttery hint at the end reassures that this is a milk chocolate, from its intensity and depth one would think it a dark.

The flavour confirms and indeed surpasses the aroma, starting out with a rich mix of raspberry and raisin, just as it says on the label, before moving into hazelnut. The evolution next reaches a mild, mocha/coffee point with hints of smooth woods, before a wave of milk and cream arrives – and not just any milk, but rather the lovely fresh dairy that was the hallmark of the days when we still had bottles delivered to our doors. Hints of treacle and even a little spice appear in a finish that doesn’t want to end, completing a flavour circle of incredible balance. Everything is in such intensity and clear resolution that it could almost be a fine dark chocolate, and with such a clean exposition this flavour must be considered the perfect milk chocolate.

Although with this fine of a flavour the texture is almost beside the point – it could be truly rough and not seriously detract – in truth the melt doesn’t let the side down either, very smooth and creamy in a way that lets you focus entirely on that magnificent flavour. Never has a milk chocolate so completely exposed its underlying beans while remaining true to the milk chocolate genre; it won’t be mistaken as such for a dark chocolate but it has all the flavour characteristics one would expect of one. Here is a chocolate for the ages, a reference standard for years to come on the heights milk chocolate can achieve, and a decisive argument that milk chocolate shouldn’t be considered the poor cousin of dark.

6 Comments

  1. Kevin September 22, 2012

    Dear Alex,

    Seems you are being carried away these days by hyperbole. First by saying on the basis of one bar alone that Dandelion is the best of the next wave chocolate makers (please, after its Madagascar, that company has stumbled badly) and now this ‘the best milk chocolate that has ever been produced’. What other Milk Chocolates have you tried, be they Dark-Milk Chocolate or regular Milk Chocolate? A check of the Seventy Percent archives counts a pitiful number of Milk Chocolate reviews in either category, and even fewer of them are by you.

    No matter, nice review.

  2. Alex Rast September 23, 2012

    The relatively small number of milk chocolate reviews is simply a matter of time and priorities; I’d like to put more up but my time to write reviews is finite and dark bars still command the priority, if only because there are more of them out there (at least more fine dark chocolates). In fact, I’ve tried literally hundreds of milk chocolates, out of a total sample count now above 1000; don’t assume the reviewed chocolates are the only ones I’ve tried!

    At the time I was talking about Dandelion it was clear that they were the most promising, based upon several samplings and personal conversations with the owners. In my talks I noted a commitment to learning alongside excellent products and a genuine desire to improve. I’ll agree that subsequent batches have deteriorated, but this is to be expected to some degree; they’ve invested in new facilities and machines and there’s going to be a learning curve. Still, I’ve already advised Todd about the decline.

    Some people believe a cool, detached style in reviews to be best. I’m not one of them. In my view remaining on a purely intellectual, analytical level with respect to things intended to evoke an emotional response, like art or chocolate, diminishes the informativeness of the review. Exceptionally glowing reviews are, I admit, always going to invite a certain level of criticism from people wary of being given unrealistic expectations but I think it’s a price worth paying to try to describe chocolates that really make an impact.

    As an example, I studied Medieval art and architecture extensively. One of the most important buildings in the period is the Church of St. Denis in Paris. It’s where Gothic is widely considered to have been invented. Well, I can say that reading Prof. Sumner Crosby’s (excellent) texts on the subject, along with many others, did not even come close to conveying the impact of that space upon me when I first went; they just didn’t capture the utter sense of wonder involved. I like to try to convey some of that impression, where possible, in my reviews.

  3. Ann September 23, 2012

    Indeed Kevin, Mr Rast does seem to favour the floral style of reviewing with plenty of Raynerisms. Personally I think it is a pity Anthony Bourdain does not review chocolate,unless its on a restaurant menu, as apart from being head and shoulders above anyone on this site with regard to reviewing anything to do with food, he actually used to be a seriously good cook as well so, imho far more qualified to give a balanced critique than any self appointed expert.

  4. Kevin September 24, 2012

    Thank you for your letter, Alex.

    I doubt that many people would consider you or Seventy% in general for being too effusive. Especially compared to other review sites, like C-spot or Foodette.. That is what I like about you.

    While no one can argue with the seminal importance of St.-Denis, particularly the vaults of the ambulatory, does it stand up as the paragon of Gothic cathedrals the way Chartres often does? In a similar vein, ‘the best milk chocolate that has ever been produced’ sounds a little displaced.

    As for Dandelion, it is not alone in being committed, in learning and speaking to a lot of experts, in acquiring and upgrading equipment. They might be alone however in producing subpar product. On second thought, I guess they have company in that department with the Mast Brothers.

  5. Kevin October 8, 2012

    Ann,

    Have you checked into the C-spot? Those guys are mental and the reviews can be in-depth to the point you get so deep into it you might get lost. They know the stuff inside out, from seed to mouth, or what the site calls “bud to bud” — cacao flower bud to human taste buds.

    To top it off, the tone is so irreverent that Anthony Boudain sounds like an repentant choir boy by comparison. They’re whack.

  6. alepal October 15, 2012

    I don’t like milk bar, but I think that this one isn’t bad. The great quantity of cacao help it a lot…

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