• Our rating: 89.2% (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

These cocoa varieties with their marvellous taste are cultivated traditionally under the protection of the rain forest, far away from the hectic paces of our time. The aroma of this cocoa is shaped by its environment; the farmers of the Cocabo cooperative prepare the soil with a lot of humus and cultivate the cocoa in a mixture of bananas and pineapples. In Bergl we coax the beautiful fruity flavour from the cocoa by means of a gentle roasting and conching process during which we frequently vary the temperature.

Zotter – Panama 70%—Chocolate Review Rating: 89.2% out of 100 based on 1 reviews.

Zotter – Panama 70%

Zotter brings together an interesting “comparison” package and quality organic chocolate within a single product. Each of the series features 2 origins side-by side in the same package, allowing you to do an A/B comparison on the spot. Generally, Zotter appears to try to combine one “high-quality” chocolate with another “mixed-results” chocolate. In this case, the Panama 70% complements a Nicaragua 70% in the same package (separate review for the Nicaragua). Of the 2, the Panama is clearly positioned as the “high-quality” bar, and on the whole it lives up to this billing, with an interesting, exceptionally complex profile. It’s particularly gratifying to see the Panama by itself, which has frequently appeared in blends, particularly for organic chocolate, but bafflingly seems rarely to be used alone. Even more bafflingly, manufacturers on the whole seem to have an indifferent opinion on quality, which certainly in this case is not borne out. Both conceptually and in realisation Zotter’s idea seems to be a success. One quirky characteristic is the inclusion of a bit of salt – can this be said to compromise its status as a “pure” chocolate bar? On this it is for the reader to decide!

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
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A first-rate bar from an uncommon origin, making a refreshing change from the baffling appearance of Panama mostly in blends. Zotter shows here also that there is absolutely no reason why manufacturers need hide the Panama behind other beans: carefully handled, it stands on its own more than admirably. That it is organic/fair trade is only a nice bit of icing on a very nice cake, a bar one can appreciate as much for its unusual mix of spicy and nutty flavours as for its ethical implications.

Zotter’s unusual packaging mixes 2 bars within one product, allowing for immediate A/B comparisons. Fortunately, the package design has been well-conceived, so that the 2 possible disasters have been avoided: first, the risk that odours from each bar might cross-contaminate, second, that it would be impossible to identify which was which. In an elegant, efficient package Zotter cleanly separates the 2 bars with multiple layers of isolation while leaving no doubt as to the identity of the bar on each side. Out of this wrapping, the Panama bar already looks good, a very nice reddish-brown, medium-dark, and with virtually no signs whatsoever of swirling or bubbling.

The aroma, however, is what really impresses, impossibly rich and completely different from any other origin. A prevailing note of spice, particularly cloves and allspice along with a hint of cayenne, is balanced by calmer woody and cocoa hints that suggest excitement yet balance. So it proves in the flavour, but with a few more surprises. It leaps out right away in a raspberry completely un-hinted at in the aroma, then turns to a smooth, creamy taste. This, however, is very brief, for soon almond comes in as the dominant note, before yet again shifting to the woody and cocoa one might expect from the aroma. The whole impression is amazingly complex, and while spicy hints do appear, they don’t have that same dominance that one notices in the aroma, so that the sensation is more one of interest in diversity than in a single bold flavour.

Melt is superb – rather like a lot of German manufacturers, Zotter obviously opts for a high cocoa butter content, so it’s extraordinarily creamy, and quite smooth. With flavours this good it makes one wonder why so few Panamanian origins have appeared outside blends, especially considering that it has been clear for some time that in these blends, the Panama was a great chocolate desperate to sing on its own. Zotter finally gives it that chance, and it shines. More chocolatiers should have the daring to produce unusual origins; even if quantities are small, the results, as here, are often worth the effort.

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