Info Details
Country Austria   
Type Brut   (90%)
Strain Beniano   
Source Bolivia   (Alto Bení; Agua Clara)
Flavor Earthen   
Style Rustic      
Sourced from the El Ceibo Cooperative, harvesting a cacáo type familiar to chocolatarians via Steve de Vries and El Ceibo’s own in-country releases. Since the 1970s, the good growers there operate on the eastern edge of the Andes in Bolivia’s Alto Beni valley, up river for Bajo Beni or lower Beni River - the latter a region put on the map by Felchlin’s Cru Sauvage in conjunction with Volker Lehmann.

Co-op members take a stand against encroachment from agribiz by organic farming in harmony with nature. Their motto, stated with commitment, even with resistance: Our Land, Our Trees, Our Cacáo. Their very name itself reflects the closeness of the relationship. El Ceibo is a unique tree that, legend has it, never dies.

Nor, apparently, does this bar.
Appearance   4.5 / 5
Color: purpled brown
Surface: well-minted, just some flakes & minor grease splatter
Temper: glimmer to the shimmer
Snap: bang-on high ‘n tight
Aroma   8.8 / 10
very El Ceibo, the tree that is... woods set in a thick chocolate marsh, charred terra preta do indio underneath (basically an ancient sustaniable technique of controlled wood burning for fertilizer) -> quinoa... grows & grows on the nose ‘til a little tell-tail Bolivian fuschsia
Mouthfeel   12.4 / 15
Texture: bit resistant
Melt: metric w/ slight stringent itch at the back
Flavor   39.2 / 50
digs in right where the Aroma went down into terra preta: charcoal fertilizer sprouting nuts in potted soil -> grilled quinoa -> dirty prune inventorying cocoa powder that casts the bitter outline of a latent coffee-plum cake
Quality   16 / 20
The higher the percentage, the better the cacáo must be, doubly so without the theatrical make-up kit (containing vanilla & lecithin). Triple when no cocoa butter gets added back.

Flavor squarely on the palate with a low-sugar / low-conche formula suiting Zotter’s taste, compensated by a hotter-than-usual roast for him, plus his signature pinch of salt to slow -- though barely restrain -- the wild temperament of cacáo.

And while this bears striking resemblance in the Earthen elements to El Ceibo’s own work - particularly their 85% (technically a “drinking chocolate”) - 90% here may reach or even break the threshold for this varietal - at least in this formulation.

A tough, rather underdeveloped, ‘chocolate’ – if that’s what one must to call it.

ING: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, salt

Reviewed Autumn 2010


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