Box Chocolate Review

Roberto Catinari

Info Details
Country Italy   (Agliana)
Style Rustic      (as in natural beauty w/ a Classic nod)
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Intensity
Complexity
Impact
Ancient wizard of the Tuscan Chocolate Valley. Undeniable singularity. What Dufoux is to France, Catinari is to Italy: both belong in the all-time chocolate pantheon, & together with Spain’s Torreblanca form a brotherhood who resonate to a shared equilibrium & symbiosis -- Europe’s Holy Cacáo Trinity of the boxed chocolate set.
Presentation   5 / 5
off-the-box -- butcher paper instead (sure sign of serious intent); pieces represent a U.N. of shapes & sizes (patés, rochers, demi-tasse, nut molds, enrobes, truffles, whips & swirls)
Aromas   4.2 / 5
ventilates nut/creams, maples & birch trees


Textures/Melt   7.9 / 10
Shells: medium light; pronounced snap
Centers: substantially firm (RE: low-cream) ganache to liquid in the liquors
Flavor   48.3 / 50
‘Fresh’ doesn’t begin to describe just how ripe; nearly incomparable & nothing stilted – that’s how embarrassing it must feel to the rest of the field... super calibration / spare / utility... Unparalleled consistency thru-out the entire line-up, every piece one right after the other, virtually no misses. Even those that start off errant miraculously turn toward greatness. About the only valid critique that can be leveled, & a rather significant one, is the lack of much chocolate attack on the uptake & at mid-palate though it usually shows by the back. Cacáo rarely the hero, & far from the superstar here. Instead, Catinari possesses that ability to see the invisible effects of combinations so that chocolate’s influence is recessed but present, deployed to generate complementary under & overtones, then hangs back, happy to bask in the reflected glory among a constellation of elements.
Quality   29.7 / 30
Experienced. Art is often the wisdom of knowing when enough is enough, & when to stop. Only the very 'hard-of-tasting' would label this 'banal' for which it’s occasionally reproached but proves revealing by dint of its very simplicity.
Selections
Couverture: guarded
Cremini Classico - alternating layers of Dark Chocolate & gianduja essence blanketed in a Milk Choc shell, the gestalt almost yielding sweet almond oil; great depth & good horizontal spread across palate; compared to Venchi’s mass-market classic, this is the personalized craft
Cremini al Pistacchio - tritone complex (Dark Choc, Classic Gianduja, & Pistachio) swathed in Milk Choc generating all sorts of overtones (vanilla gelato, fruit glacé, & almond again in add’n to the stated elements); a world beater
Cremini alla Nocciola - instead of the more even-textured Classic or Pistacchio, Dark choc base plays to chopped hazelnuts; by altering the formula a few degree it pays off in huge differentials... thicker more viscous & rustic flavor igniting a vapor of brandy; perhaps too great a departure for some, while for others a heretic eventually canonized like a saint burnt at the stake (think Giordano Bruno) then compare this to Domori's rendering
Rusticelli Fondente - coarsely-chopped hazelnuts bathed in 71% Dark; naked preparation, stark presentation, & segregated flavors; rustic Tuscan beauty
Rusticelli al Latte - same unadorned form as the Rusticelli Fondente but here swathed in Milk Choc whose flavors in the act of masticating integrate for nut-toffees delivering a umami zap to the back
Rusticelli Bianco - more clean simple lines that epitomize Tuscany in general & these Rusticelli in particular, with White Choc taking its turn... finely roasted buttered nuts; simplicity kills
Noci - part of Catinari’s Forme del Bosco or ‘Wood Series’, this vents maple-walnut on the inhale while the inside taste reveals more of the same, just deeper... a walnut crunch covered in Milk Choc, the elements fuse so seamlessly by the end there’s no clue of the constituents save for a residual of the namesake origin: wood grain & walnut leaves; stunning brilliance
Monachina - walnut, marzipan-style; drier & mealier than traditional almond-marzipan with an inside-out play of White Choc sealing the interior nut-meat then Dark fondant wrapping all that; conjures up sweet-almond cherry streaking to soft orange bergamot at the back; sensational
Marzapone Quadratino - classic marzipan paste expressing fresh almond to extracted levels like oil coated in Dark; so utterly true & unpretentious that even those without a hankering jones for marzipan will recognize its honesty
Marzapone Sarotto - among the most elaborate assemblies of the collection; chocolate-covered café bean leans hard into a Dark fondant cupping the White Choc center laced with marzipan... hurtles dangerously on the edge of losing control in an all-out caffeine frenzy, then almond of all things restrains the kinetics & the piece regains its poise; a breathtaker
Champagne - pops the cork right off & splits it in half, the pressurized bubbles shooting tiny projectiles in this very liquid piece sealed in a Dark chocolate cask which together become a sweet toast to a kind of rich wedding cake; excellent fun-damentals
Grappa alla Pera - another liquid oozy-gun just splatters the taste-buds into a sticky sugar state; potent & dry, almost Tequila strength & arid; pear pomace pummeling the senses nearly numb & senseless yet, once again, fortified couverture matches the liqueur, cooling & calming the hot vapors trails by the finish for a type of distilled chocolate; an event of patience-rewarded; superb
Rhum Bacioni - an apricot kiss (buoyed by egg whites to give it that plush marshmallow cush) on a crisp wafer sozzled in rum; initially cums off a cheap hooker then, as ever with Catinari, turns to the real textural thing - soft & cocoa-hot with banana in between – to simulate that characteristic bittersweet-nut of Amaretto diSaronno; serious love only
80% Bar - Catinari may be no bean-to-bar maker, he is however a 1st rate re-smelter (beautifully brushed plate); the label reads São Tomé but the percentage, the aromagrams (wickedly fermented & roasted), & the all-telling flavor point to bud-to-bud barsmith (that’s cacáo flower bud to human taste-bud) Claudio Corallo on the neighboring island of Príncipe; coarse texture / coarse conche as expected (with Nibs no less) produces a stonewood opening -> good mid-point chocolate -> butter & cream take over the progression to escort fleeting reds to the smoked finish... flavor-wise one of the softest Corolla’s yet, remiscent of his 75% Nibble Bar with the greater cacáo-content probably made up in butter

Reviewed Autumn 2010
Signup for our free Newsletter

Signup for our free Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from the C-spot.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest