• Our rating: 87.6% (4 reviews)
  • Company:
  • Cacao solids: 70%
  • Guide Price: £2.20, $4.89
  • Description by: Seventy%
  • Production: Produced directly from beans by maker
  • Certification:
    • None
  • Ingredients:
    • Cocoa beans
    • Sugar
    • Cocoa Butter
    • Soya Lecithin
    • Vanilla

Guanaja is the best known of the Valrhona Grands Crus as it was the first to delight the lovers of bitter dark chocolate.

On 30th July 1502 Christopher Columbus landed on the Island of Guanaja, offshore from Honduras.
Valrhona has given this legendary name to the most powerful of its chocolate Grands Crus.

Valrhona has rediscovered the best cocoas, Criollos (tree) with the aroma of flowers and fruit, and the Trinitarios (tree) typified by a strong bouquet to mix them all together in an exceptional bitterness.

Its intense taste brought out by hints of flowers reveals intensity - exceptionally long on the palate.

Valrhona – Guanaja—Chocolate Review Rating: 87.6% out of 100 based on 4 reviews.

Valrhona – Guanaja

A classic for the connoisseur and the chef alike. Complex flavours with fine red forest fruit notes and great length define this landmark chocolate.

Reviews

Hans-Peter Rot: 10-Aug-2006

Posted: August 10, 2006 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 10%
Look/snap: 5%
Taste: 35%
Melt: 5%
Length: 15%
Opinion: 30%
Total/100: 100%
INFO
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The aroma is slightly sour with a body of raspberries and cedar, but sadly, it’s way too mild and nondescript. Likewise, so is the appearance. It suggests lots of rough handling through its many scuffmarks, chipping, and meager sheen, all of which imply old age and similarly a washed out flavor. At this point, is it even worth the effort to taste?

Indeed it is! The flavor is an absolute sensation and goes in so many directions that it’s easy to get lost in its wild variation. Tropical fruits enter very calmly, then raspberries unload aggressively and bring with it strong coffee undertones and some acidity. Blueberries and blackberries then follow in subsequent order and then lead to bitter blackstrap, but presiding over all this is a veil of flowers, perhaps jasmine, that seems to divert Guanaja’s intent of darkened fruit intensity.

Texture is smooth and creamy, the usual consistency Valrhona tends to deliver and definitely the icing on the cake. Named after the eponymous island that spurred a revelation in Columbus, Guanaja has similarly inspired a reawakening in the palates of many a chocolate enthusiast. In its day the chocolate stood unrivaled and is just as relevant today, bearing awesome flavor and complexity and having very few competitors threatening to usurp its throne as one of the best chocolates on the market.

Alex Rast: 6-Oct-2005

Posted: October 6, 2005 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:
Source:
Supplied by:

One of the most complex chocolates you will ever taste. This bar perhaps has some historic value, being one of the first to try really to explore the complexities of chocolate flavour, and it’s still remarkable today. It’s especially unusual to find such a vivid combination of flavour elements in a blend, which usually is more balanced and even than exciting and characteristic.

Some bars have a reddish cast but this one is decisively *red* – reminiscent of iron ore and very distinctive. Valrhona puts a great deal of effort into finish and it shows in the smooth, shiny finish and perfect moulding of the bar. It almost advertises itself. Unfortunately, the aroma is nothing special, one of the bar’s few low points – something of a generic chocolatey/coffee mixed with elements of raspberry. That in itself might not be so bad, but it’s all at low intensity, so the interest doesn’t build.

It’s not clear why the aroma is so mild and muted, because as soon as you bite into this bar an explosion of flavours rocks you. First comes a complex, tropical fruit taste of mango and papaya – common among Criollos, especially Carenero. Then there’s a darker hint of red wine, very pungent and strong. Vague hints of molasses and cedar also drift in and out, so that you’re swirling in the complexity of it all. Best of all, all these flavours come at you with an unbelievable intensity – one of the strongest 70% chocolates.

Texture is similarly excellent, superbly smooth and creamy. When this chocolate came out there were very few companies competing even in the same league for texture with Valrhona. Today some companies even exceed what Valrhona does, but that doesn’t detract from the textural excellence here. Nor does the introduction of new, superb chocolates detract from the excellence of Guanaja. Even today it holds its own among the great chocolates of the world. Perhaps THE most influential chocolate ever produced, and a must-try now as much as ever.

Anne Bramley: 28-May-2005

Posted: May 28, 2005 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:
Source:
Supplied by:

What intrigues me about Valrhona’s Guanaja, a much-commented upon bar, is the intelligent blend of characteristically distinct tastes and smells. Rather than a cacophony of competing flavors, this bar plays a delightfully elegant symphony crafted from floral notes and a supporting baseline of tobacco, coffee, and cherries.

Almonds and dates emerge in the taste, but floral undertones still keep playing on pianissimo. In the background, I continually detect a hint of lingering acid, almost like green grapes or a fine Pinot Blanc. And while it pulls ahead with a wonderful melt, it’s the herbal aftertaste that really surprises.

Martin Christy: 16-Mar-2003

Posted: March 16, 2003 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:
Source:
Supplied by:

For some of us, this chocolate is where it all began. Guanaja was launched by Valrhona in the mid-eighties as the first of their ‘Grand Cru’ range of blended chocolate couverture, and when first tasted by this reviewer in 1993 after a visit to Harrods in London caused a personal epiphany whose end result was this website. The chocolate is named for the first European encounter with cacao in 1502 when Columbus met a native boat laden with beans – the Europeans could see no value in them, but to the locals it was money!

Guanaja is a complex chocolate blended from beans from up to ten sources, it has hidden depths and can often surprise with different flavour variations at different sittings.

Brilliant looking, especially if seen broken from large blocks. Aroma is of sweet coffee and cinnamon with ripe cream and cheese hints. After an initial toffee burst, the flavour in the mouth moves from almonds to the darkness of coffee balanced by classic criollo forest fruit notes, along with a perfect creamy melt. Length is excellent with a harmony of flavours lingering on the tongue.

There was a time when I would have fought anyone in the street who did not agree this was the best chocolate in the world. Times move on though and good as it is there are new chocolates on the block, including some from Valrhona such as the excellent new vintage Ampamakia, I’m sure you can tell though that I have a soft spot for this one!

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