• Our rating: 77.0% (1 review)
  • Company:
  • Cacao solids: 70%
  • Guide Price: £3.00
  • Description by: Alex Rast
  • Production: Produced directly from beans by maker
  • Certification:
    • None
  • Ingredients:
    • cocoa mass, cocoa butter raw cane sugar, salt

Nicaragua is a beautiful country whose economy is unfortunately still marked by the scars of the civil war. We are linked by close cooperation with the cocoa cooperative Uncrisproca in the province of Matagalpa. We are jointly working on creating the future by focussing on quality. The small farmers who apply the traditional cultivation methods may only compete agains the mass production of the intense cultivations by achieving best quality.

For this reason Uncrisproca increasingly focuses on the selection of the seedlings and thus on the protection of fine grade cocoa varieties, the improvement of processing and the yield increase by the exchange of know-how. Moreover we already invited representatives of the cooperative to our factory in Bergl.

The extensive programme included everything from the business meetings to a football tournament. Because every kilo of cocoa requires a personality as well as motivation. This cocoa is composed of various cocoa varieties which enable you to experience a complex aroma on the palate.

Zotter – Nicaragua 70%—Chocolate Review Rating: 77.0% out of 100 based on 1 reviews.

Zotter – Nicaragua 70%

Partner to the Panama 70% (see the companion review) in a 2-bar set, this chocolate takes the “more experimental” position within the comparison. As noted for the Panama, the unusual decision to include salt places a very slight question mark behind its classification as a “pure” dark bar, but certainly in this case salt is not being used as a primary flavour by any means. Not an origin one sees very frequently, this bar is interesting, if still clearly in a developing state. It’s nice to compare this against the Panama, to see the difference between a “mature” fine chocolate and one the product of an industry still in development (or possibly in recovery, to judge by the package description). This bar demonstrates a good application of what is, perhaps, the optimum model for cocoa production, even in mature growing regions: very close relationships of consultancy and cooperation between producers and suppliers, giving direct feedback that helps producers improve techniques and quality while giving manufacturers both more reliable sourcing and a better understanding of the potential of a given origin or varietal.

Reviews

Alex Rast: 5-Oct-2010

Posted: October 5, 2010 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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Supplied by:

Paired with the superb Panama 70%, this bar gives a point of reference to compare against. It’s clearly the “work-in-progress” of the 2, and in this regard may have more merit in its ability to demonstrate the superiority of the Panama than its own qualities, however interesting, but still it must be said that this is a chocolate worth trying. Some emerging cocoa countries have really abysmal output, at least initially; it’s clear Nicaragua is beyond that, although it still has a fair way to go. Zotter gives the bar about as good of a treatment as it can get, giving it the opportunity to state its case. With continued improvement Nicaragua could turn into a really first-rate origin.

Out of the wrapper, the chocolate clearly displays the hallmarks of a bean whose genetics are favourable: a light red-brown colour with a finish that is almost void of swirls or bubbles. One does have to work to find the aroma: it’s decidedly faint, the initial impression being of grass, then something dusty and indistinct, but eventually hints of black pepper and molasses show what the probable characteristics of the bean are: intense and spicy.

Rather like the aroma, the flavour starts out unassertive, a rather generic fruity, perhaps currant, perhaps grape, then just simply sugary-sweet. Development gets more powerful, but perhaps largely as a result of the roast, with coffee prevailing, even some ashy, along with coconut and woody. It’s rather flat, but somehow avoids the dreadful flatness of genuinely poor chocolate, and while the fruits at the beginning are indistinct, they help to mitigate any sense of monotonicity.

Texture here is good – not perhaps at the level of the Panama but still quite creamy and smooth. It’s possible Zotter is using a lower cocoa butter ratio to try to bring out more of the flavour, which remains somewhat faint. There is clearly work to do here, but it’s recognisably a quality bar, not one which would have been better never seeing the light of day. It would seem the Nicaraguan producers need to get a better grip on fermentation, which is the area that appears to be suboptimal in this chocolate – the fine qualities are obviously there, they just need improved handling. Zotter’s dual package makes for an intriguing “before-after” hint: one feels like the Nicaragua shows what chocolate is like when producers care but are still developing their knowledge, the Panama shows what it can be like when that knowledge is achieved. Thus perhaps in the set, the Nicaragua should be tried first, then the Panama, allowing one to experience the journey through production. Zotter should continue to encourage the Uncrisproca cooperative to improve; within a few years we may be seeing great chocolates from here!

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