Info Details
Country Austria   
Type Brut   (80%)
Strain Hybrid   
Source Peru   (Piura)
Flavor Earthen   
Style Rustic      
Sourced from Piura, the northern coastal redoubt, a sort of Esmeraldas of Peru – a bit off the beaten path from the rest of the cacáo in this country. Here Pizarro founded the first Spanish city in South America in 1532, so named after the Quechua pirhua, meaning ‘abundance’, & the staging area from which he set out with but 186 conquistadores to meet the 80,000-man army of Sapa Inca Atahualpa of the Tawantinsuyu (‘Land of the 4 Quarters’ aka Inca Empire) that nominally controlled the territory in these parts. They met in Cajamarca, just to the southeast.

In a psychological poker game, each man sought to co-opt then dupe the other, plotting they’d get the better of their opponent without a fight.

The Spanish found themselves in a dilemma. An assault on the Inca armies overlooking the valley would prove suicidal given the force disparity. Retreat could be interpreted as a show of weakness, inviting pursuit & perhaps worse in the mountain passes. Doing nothing might undermine the air of invincibility swirling about the Spanish ever since their arrival in the New World.

In a do-or-die scenario, the conquistadores, whose only reinforcements lay 2,000 miles away in Panama, chose a decapitation strategy of ambushing the leadership, in the hope of collapsing the command structure & disintegrating the Inca forces into chaos & mayhem.

Atahualpa decided upon a meeting with the Spanish while leaving the security detail of his grand army behind which he fatefully kept outside the city walls, thinking this gambit a demonstration of goodwill.

He critically misjudged the moment & played right into Pizarro’s hand.

The Spaniard immediately delivered the customary Requerimiento (recognize Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior, & Charles I of Spain as King). Naturally the Inca refused. Handed a Bible, Altahualpa supposedly threw it – the first book he’d ever seen - on the ground. show more »
Appearance   4.6 / 5
Color: buff brown
Surface: clean print
Temper: 3-D shimmer
Snap: bends in the hands then recoils a crisp clip; forges a canyon edge wall
Aroma   8.1 / 10
first layer pure chocolate leather -> enveloped by Peruvian black olive -> gives off manioc w/ a flake of cinnamon + Amazon grape’s wintergreen scent... eventuates ever greener plants, then ultimately a cinnamon-ized cocoa & a sniffle of fruit blossom; very studied / composed
Mouthfeel   12 / 15
Texture: effortless
Melt: urgent; positively stringent-free
Flavor   31.4 / 50
launches dry cocoa smack in the mouth, downshifts to chocolate walnut brownie -> manioc / rice + maple-like lucuma syrup (unusually rare & rich expressing sugar cane) -> balsa -> salted molasses drizzling, then dripping, before finally driving the progression home; fades off w/ the return of the brownie
Quality   13.2 / 20
Of seeds purchased at the Aprocap co-op which sports a blend of cacáo varieties from 2 primary sources – down-flow from Ecuador (Nacional / Nac’l hybrids); the other central Huallaga River Valley in northern Peru - including 40% white seeds, shades of Marañón’s Nacional but these from pods “smooth as a porcelain bowl... gleaming far thru the jungle in a brilliant yellow orange”.

Thru the jungle of myth-information.

Neither rainforest nor urban jungle, Piura receives 1% annual rainfall. Its cacáo, cultivated on the plains, relies for irrigation on runoff from the Andes in a similar dynamic to Chuao.

Further, the color description reflects probably a mutant rather than any neo-Porcelana.

Nonetheless, their rather rare & perhaps fragile nature make them unsuitable, according to the growers, for monocultures. Hence they plant the ‘whites’ with other cacáo varieties, proclaiming that this type & biodiversity go naturally together. Fairly true but unfortunately cacáo crossbreeds promiscuously, often to inferior progenies, risking that this particular variety will disappear.

In any event, while they darken somewhat during fermentation (as do virtually all cacáo seeds) they retain a rather light hue. Zotter then applies an LCD-roast set to low temperature & to slow tempo, & conches a "mere" 16 hours to seal it.

The result feels undeveloped overall despite quality CQ (baseline chocolate flavor without any nuances or interference from under/overtones) & in such abundance especially at the front.

Trouble looms when that cocoa is held hostage to raw cane sugar that overly colors to murder it. Although the pair create a unique moment during the handoff at mid-palate when chocolate yields to sugar cane, it tastes starved, thirsting for moist fruit. Salt packs it away for good measure – a dark dim tone, virtually absent any highlights whatsoever.

So downcast & demoralized a chocolate that Zotter might’ve manufactured this listening to the Adagio / 2nd Movement of fellow Austrian Joseph Haydn’s Farewell Symphony.

ING: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cacáo butter, salt

Reviewed Autumn 2010


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