Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (65%; Batch CMS-4)
Strain Blend   (mite Criollo)
Source Madagascar   (Sambirano Valley)
Flavor Fruits & Flowers   
Style Classic      
Cometh the moment, cometh the bar... a ‘Madagusher’ that digs a different hole by digging the same hole deeper to echo Alan Watts’ “nothing’s exactly as it seems, nor is it otherwise”.
Appearance   5 / 5
Color: Mad orange
Surface: cosmeceutical beauty bar w/ uniform whirlpools on back
Temper: spit-shine
Snap: hi-pitched
Aroma   8.8 / 10
1st draft decidedly masculine (cedar, ceylon tea & tobacco mixed in vanilla) -> lays the leather on the wood -> lightens up some w/ fougère (think oakmoss, fern, lavender) & pinene terpines (think pine cones / juniper berries / vetiver); heavy as JP’s personal study at the Morgan Library in NYC yet typical for a Mad-65%... very Vestri
Mouthfeel   11.9 / 15
Texture: starts rigid then bends into...
Melt: ... a slow release
Flavor   46.2 / 50
cocoa lite -> whispering cranberry -> cedar box freighted w/ low-hanging reds as sugar digs & piles on (sweet / tart-free rapsberries, red grapes, cherry, jujube date) amidst a chocolate bang meading into kewda (Pandanus odoratissimus) -> coriander to vanilla -> juicy back (chocolate pineapple / lychee) at the tail -> stringent wood chip to clear
Quality   18.7 / 20
Scharffen Berger, the proto American micro-processor starting in the 1990s, coming late to Madagascar – among the most over-represented origins; 2nd only to Ecuador in inundating the retail market with its traditionally spritzy cacáo. True, the label dabbled in the ill-fated Kumasi-Sambirano, a pan-African blend from Madagascar & Ghana but this marks its first "single origin" from this island.

At 65% a bar that stands out from the semi-sweet field crowding the Mad island (Guittard’s Ambanja, Valrhona’s Ampamakia, Cluizel’s Mangaro, Theo, Lindt, + the full make-up kit to go with the ample sugar (vanilla, lecithin, add’l butter) puts it squarely in the classical camp. It also renders a highly balanced CBS (Cocoa Mass/Butter/Sugar ratio) of a Manjari-like ~4:5:5 (but ups the mass content) that extends throughout the progression in virtually every aspect.

The usual S-B red-fruit blush – very suitable for this the “Red Island” - but different too. All the signature acidity one expects from Sambirano Valley cacáo yet moderate at that, & disbelieving in its solid chocolate counterweight (again, because of that fractionally greater cocoa mass to sugar / fat). The mainstay here being the conche -- wound tight to bind up the sugar crystals & coat the cocoa particles, felt readily in the rather unpliable Texture. Hence, a bar that takes awhile to grab hold. Once it does, it haunts.

As foreshadowed in the Aroma, this lets the bar play darker / bigger than its percentage, nearly veering into Richart 70% territory. Instead of rolled off, Madagascar’s drippy volatiles roll under the pressure of the tannins to gush thick & heavy. As such, it misses some charisma of Vestri’s Mad or Guittard’s Ambanja but compensates with stamina & symmetry. A tall effort by S-B to restore order to the lagging fortunes of Madagascar frittered away by many recent failures.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cacáo butter, soy lecithin, vanilla beans

Reviewed Autumn 2010


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