Upala 70

by Potomac
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (70%; choc-o-lot #101118)
Strain Matina   (Amazon hybrid)
Source Costa Rica   (Upala)
Flavor Naked   (w/ Fruits/Flowers)
Style New School      
Hall-of-Fame Coach Mike Ditka likes to say wisdom is rarely wasted on the young. Operative word in that thought: rarely.

This, the inaugural release from the young barsmiths Justin Smith & Ben Rasmussen at Potomac Chocolate, flirts with brilliance before descending into the dim afterglow of its own shadows.

Just lucky or genius? Maybe lucky geniuses.
Appearance   4.6 / 5
Color: cool brown
Surface: sleek
Temper: glistening
Snap: earplugs, please: hard rock
Aroma   9.1 / 10
distant shades of De Vries (mangosteen / grape / tamarind seed in a generalized balsamic tang) quickly shifts to juju raisin beads before a unique signatures arises: mother-of-pearl overlay, then alabaster & finally ivory soap bubbles!! Sound the alarms or ring the bells?
Mouthfeel   10.9 / 15
Texture: slick on the touch & tongue...
Melt: ... but taut (warped Beta VI territory)
Flavor   43.4 / 50
raspberry dodges in & out around supple cocoa -> shadowed by black mondo grass -> woods ear mushrooms -> berry resurgence (jaltomato) along w/ ground cherry -> cured olive -> tannins firm up to blackstrap molasses & carob syrup straddling coffee, chickory, malabar seeds & tar flats -> amate -> recovers poise for a vanilla-fig ender
Quality   15.2 / 20
Rogue opening (Colin Gasko’s quasi-Piura raspberry riot) then, alas, closes with an Amano-peel out (the dashed promise of Art Pollard’s Jembrana). In between some good cocoa flush. Ultimately a teaser chocolate: the bean runs out of stamina & flattens toward the finish.

The mix of flavors points away from conventional Costa Rican cacáo trees & in the direction of CATIE – that country’s research center & one of the 2 main genebanks in the world. The stuff of fabricated pedigree... new stocks concocting a functional hybrid engineered for yield, disease resistance & a drop of ‘fine-flavor’ veneer.

Potomac handles it fairly; lowers the temp on the oven roaster compared to the burn-marks in this bar’s 82% sibling (a judicious choice), offset by an excessive conche (noticeable in the taut Texture & collapsed progression). Results in a listless though not necessarily lifeless chocolate. A bar whose character goes wandering in search of itself.

ING: cocoa bean, sugar

Reviewed November 2010


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