Info Details
Country USA   
Type Flavored   (yo, no se but maybe Bergamot; 70%; Lot No. 3/4/77)
Strain Hybrid   
Source Dominican Republic   
Flavor Fruits & Flowers   
Style retro-American      
Rios (Spanish for ‘rivers’) flow throughout the chocolate world. In the wild, most cacáo grows along riverbanks & often extend only a shallow distance into the interior. Since the Amazon basin possesses the world’s most extensive network of tributaries, that leaves plenty of cacáo all around. Practically every river valley of the Amazon rainforest boasts its own unique cacáo type.

Of note to most consumers, when it comes to ‘rios’ & chocolate, would be Los Rios in Ecuador (an area that produces spotty “Arriba”) and Venezuela’s Rio Caribe (seen recently in the work of American barsmiths Rogue and Patric exhibiting more carob & coffee than chocolate).

Dos Rios literally translates ‘2 Rivers’. In this case, a couple chocolate streams (one more floral than rosewater, the other diluted cocoa). As quixotic as Don Quixote & his sidekick Sancho Panza. But Amano diverges from them. Where Cervantes’ characters become fun-luvin’ fools, these 2 rivers join together to form a confluence: Don Rio – el gangster of flavor who's river deep / mountain high among America's most wanted.

In a word - 'impudent', which to some means 'a wicked good flavorite'.
Appearance   4.9 / 5
Color: cool magenta
Surface: among Amano’s best; even the light flakes appear as sparkles & the swirl patterns on the back rather galactic
Temper: sharp matte bounceback
Snap: literal & powerful; dense caking along the break wall
Aroma   9.1 / 10
Cluizel’d again: heavy olives roll out the wrapper – green picholine all over it – ala Los Ancones – incl its unpeaceful olive branch -> immediately gives way to a kiss of cilantro, then an aerosol of earl grey & pronounced bergamot... the way a maid sprays a cloud of lysol everywhere like it'll materialize into free money -> eventuates perfume in an outhouse... lots of cologne tone (the unbathed guy who hasn’t washed in days, possibly weeks, & instead splashes on bottles of scent in the wishful hope to hide the body funk. Dudes, it never really works... unless the babe likes it that way & can swallow it.) -> soapnut (sapindus) on the rubdown
Mouthfeel   12.9 / 15
Texture: smooth sailing
Melt: semi-rapids; fast & even
Flavor   42.7 / 50
almost a recrap of the Aromatics... takes the elevator from there to Bergdorf Level 5F & enters seamlessly where cosmetic spritzers await, spraying aerosal rivers of chypre... big bergamot on voluminous overdrive & nothing but, a tempest in a teapot until underscored in baseline cocoa... stays layered like this -> the twain briefly amalgamate as grenadilla-chocolate -> pivots & heads downstream on burnt-sugar backbone for vanilla-caramel -> mite bittering (the advertised “spices”?) thru-to-the finish checked in malt -> persistent bergamot & geranium petals laced w/ rose attar & lavender like a thorn floating in an earl grey tea cup w/ a nip of rum for the post-script... basically a Morir Sonando — "Die Dreaming" — the Dominican drink based on OJ
Quality   16.2 / 20
Folks suspect this frankenchocolate could be artificially flavored. Oh, ya think?

‘Dos Rios’ in this bar must metaphorically stand for 2-dimensional. In the post-Avatar world of the impending ‘man-machine’ merger, it feels strangely simple by comparison – quaint & nostalgic as a powder room to correct one’s make-up on the Titanic – especially next to other recent D.R.s: Coppenuer’s Buena Vista (the first to break the 90% barrier for the origin), Rogue's molé sauce a k a 'Hispaniola' bar, and Vestri's beautiful Alegre.

Dos Rios’ amplified bergamot tones cast about terpenes & shouts a 'bergamotet' at unnaturally high levels. Its near-chemical off-flavors exaggerate to the point of turning antagonistic toward any other notes (spices? Oh, they’re in there somewhere... buried). So wildly unbalanced & fortified off-the-charts yet narrowly focused of laser intensity for any bar ever to come from this island (or any island as well as any origin for that matter) that it’s easy to be wowed by the shock of the new ala Star Wars when it first came out in release; with fruit-flowers which overwhelm & stifle practically all else to prevent the bar from fully opening up.

The post-harvest processor of these cacáo seeds is the Rizek family which has managed Los Ancones Estate (of Cluizel bar fame) since 1903 & Buena Vista among other holdings in the D.R.

Just as Robert Modavi revolutionized wine-making by switching from wood to stainless steel casks, Rizek has been experimenting with plastic fermentation & the treatment may accentuate the effects in this bar. Without banana leaves or palm fronds of the ferment pile, or the wood of the sweat box method, both of which can, to varying degrees depending on the exact material(s) used, impart flavor & depth. Plastic affords a modestly quicker (5 or less days) & theoretically “cleaner” process that could translate to more linear flavor. By way of contrast, Moho's use of sapodilla wood significantly colors their bars.

Chocolate, being highly situational, perhaps the result here is particular only to this bar & this specific batch. Still, its engineered feel exceeds even that of the splicing grafts of Domori’s clones in collaboration with the Franceschi family at Hacienda San José in Venezuela.

All sorts of ‘trickeration’ can get played on the chocolate consumer. ‘Single-origins’ that are actually blends (see S-B’s pan-Venezuela called Cuyagua); bizarre cacáo-content proportions (Mr. Choklat’s brown butterball crayons); & sly private labeling (Alice ending up in Switzerland instead of Wonderland).

Processors having a hand in enhancing flavor development is nothing new. Ever since the first humans invented chocolate thousands of years ago in the Americas, we’ve been manipulating it in order to transform otherwise bitter seeds inside cacáo pods. The level of aggressive intervention & intensity now represents a more modern take, a precursor to the nano-flavorings on the horizon.

For example, one manufacturer (that has yet to go to market so will remain undisclosed) infuses cacáo butter oil with herbs, spices, & flowers and "strains them out" before adding to the conche & thus does not feel obliged to include those infusions on the panel listing ingredients. Or growers / processors who ferment cacáo seeds with the pulp of other fruits, some unrelated but more likely those of the 'cocoa cousins' (Theobroma grandiflorum aka cupuaçu reminiscent of passion flower; Theobroma bicolor aka pataxte / 'white jaguar' / macambo leaves behind a legume note; & the more distant cousin Herrania has peanut-like tones). Such adjuncts will distinctly alter the end Flavor.

Amano possibly received cocoa beans unaware exactly how they were treated on the ground in the growing region prior to shipment. Then again it may be in on it too & everyone else is left hoodwinked. Ergo, this disclaimer: “We do not add flavorings (other than a tad of vanilla that helps to bring out chocolate's true flavor), nuts, fruit bits, spices, etc. to our chocolate. Our chocolate is so good, it doesn't need all that other stuff." And in furtherance some abra-cacáo-dabra: "We had to bring our entire repertoire of skills to highlight the beans incredible flavor. Even so, we had to develop new techniques to make this chocolate -- some of which we believe are ground breaking.”

Maybe all true.

Which begs the question: does whoever is most repsonsible for this bar’s flavor have the hi-tech gear promised by Tcho to isolate certain compounds found in cacáo beans & bump them up to such an amplitude? If so, it accelerates the steps in chocolate’s evolution in somewhat the manner of Pralus’ Le 100 or Zotter's Das 100: not yet 'unobtainium' cacáo, but a precursor to GMO chocolate 3-D.

Whatever the chain of custody, this bar looks, smells, & tastes doctored in chocolate surgery. An artifice that warrants being subjected to chemical analysis by the FDA.

Which is exactly what the C-spot™ did, submitting specimens for analysis using mass-spectrometry. Upon investigation, the conclusion: the probable equivalent of steroids or athletic PEDs but in the this case Preparation-Enhanced Delivery... doused with additives.

Chocolate weirding, duped & served.

Nothing wrong with that per se; in the end it's all about matters of taste.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cacáo butter, vanilla; CBS (Cocoa Mass/Butter/Sugar ratio): ~2/4/3

Reviewed Spring 2010


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