Info Details
Country Italy   
Type Dark   (100%)
Strain Hybrid   
Source Dominican Republic   (Bonao; Hacienda Vista Alegre)
Flavor Twang   (& a little Naked)
Style Neo-Modern      
The soft power of cacáo: pure, clean, & simple
Appearance   4.8 / 5
beauty parlor
Color: multihued mahogany
Surface: immaculate except for glimmering butter-freckles on back appear as luminous stardust
Temper: absorbent sheen
Snap: cracker-jack castenet; sheared edge, finely sanded, orange-tinted interior
Aroma   9.2 / 10
clean to the extreme & intensely mild for a 100: lots of O2 surrounds light passion fruit piercing backset tobaccocoa wood & supple butter-soft leather; picholine on the rubdown; aerates green tea / mango
Mouthfeel   13.4 / 15
Texture: medium frame without the usual 100% paste; moist & mealy
Melt: purposeful w/ residual zest & rind of sorts to fit the profile; clears in an astringent grip
Flavor   45.6 / 50
cocoa wood churns big butter to release a soft chocolate hit -> shooting starfruit rises in the center -> grapefruit spray... its juice induces bitter grapefruit seed extract & plays off the rind -> distills dirty rum as earthen elements swallow it up -> breadfruit the composure that slows the progression to a calm -> flushes down solid chocolate (bitter earth intact) with stringent thoroughness against sweet mamon pulp; reverberates green tea deep in the shaft
Quality   19.1 / 20
Dumbfounding ratio (CBS or Cocoa Mass / Butter / Sugar ~ 2:1:0) indicates, on the label at least, virtually no cacáo butter added back in. Just the opposite: scaled downward & extracted out goes against the grain to put so much of this bar on cocoa mass & so little on the fat. While cacáo butter content varies according to genetics & soil conditions, this bar plays suspiciously out-of-proportion from the stated percentages. And yet butter drives much of the sensation, especially early on, & keeps bitterness in check throughout.

But mass is where this is ultimately at.

No make-up applied (no sugar, no vanilla, no lecithin, no minor spice additives ala Cluizel). In this case just the rather gentle power of cacáo.

Vestri really customizes the detailing here, thoroughly winnowing these beans grown on his own estate in DR. Aromatics pre-told the story: super clean, assisted by a pro ferment of little influence from the wood & banana leaf covering the sweat boxes. Before then, however, he tapped a pre-harvest of obvious benign quality, as the roots of this vintage are exceptional, inhering a perceived sweetness despite zero white sugar. Add-in a non-interfering roast free of any masked intention (which roasting too often imparts) from an almost invisible hand for an egoless naked chocolate.

Though missing some of the sparkling hedonics of Pralus’ stellar Le 100 (the difference lying in the terra - DR generally lacks that higher fruit-acid register), this avoids the reckless mash-ups of Slitti’s brutal release in the unsweetened class. Or even high percentage bars that use the double crutches of sugar & vanilla & still come away catastrophes (e.g., Nocturne by Guittard).

What’s achieved here is a simple reminder that cacáo at its most fundamental level is a fruit - albeit a feral one - that if planted & produced correctly becomes the kind that can be ripe for the picking right off the tree. No one better than Vestri does it so naturally.

The name of this bar & the object it signifies are one & the same: Pure Mass. A brown investment of blue-chip quality.

ING: cocoa mass

Reviewed Summer 2009


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