Info Details
Country France   
Type Semi-Dark   (75%)
Strain Chuao   (Criollo mix)
Source Venezuela   (Aragua; Chuao)
Flavor Naked   (some Fruits/Flowers)
Style Classic      
It took a handful of women in a village to raise Chuao up to the superpower state of chocolate. Can the favor ever be returned?

To precogs out there, Stéphane Bonnat himself salutes y’all for dreaming the impossible dream in full quixotic splendor.

In attempting to trump Greater Chuao with the ever-finer Chuao Village, a case of hair-splitting -- ‘if Chuao is the best then the Village must be the best of the best’ -- in a hoped-for ‘less-is-more’ scenario, Bonnat almost defies that it takes the whole estate after all.

Practically any & every way you cut it, Chuao has the swag.
Appearance   4.4 / 5
Color: dark ‘n rouge
Surface: due diligence
Temper: soft mica
Snap: deep muscular groan
Aroma   9 / 10
abruptly awakens the senses w/ jolting araguany uppercut -> dense chocolate spice cake -> filters out tobac -> browned sugar banks along the river -> oxidizes green leaf; less rambling / more clarified than grandpa’s Amedei Chuao (fainter signs of tell-tale blueberry or butter-dipped molasses) but unmistakably identifiable nonetheless
Mouthfeel   13.1 / 15
Texture: the lush life
Melt: measured by a personal tailor
Flavor   45.9 / 50
arrives in pure chocolate carriage w/ small blueberry in the trunk -> light back-draft molasses -> idles some until stem / stone / mineral undersiding (that riverine quality in the Aroma) scrapes up rising citric action to the finish line (sweet granadilla + pepino)... re-coalesces into blueberry -> toasted almonds the aft-burner to yet another golden Bonnat roast
Quality   18 / 20
If Amano’s is the least & Domori’s the most unique, then Bonnat represents the most “street” of Chuaos.

Altogether Chuao now counts numerous varietals, cultivars & crosses. What Bonnat has done is to narrow the scope in selecting a subset of them, reducing some variety (& randomness) by choosing the pick of the crop closer to the village. He sourced this allotment from the original women’s co-op there. Their more homegenized stock results in an even ferment over the course of 5 days, compared to the standard piles sporting a diverse mix that leave some beans underfermented & others overfermented.

Stéphane concedes he saw a hefty number of “Forastero” among the trees & worried about their innate aggressiveness which he ably tames with his specialty roast & butter cuts.

Tremendous start & grand finish; in-between rather halting (very stable & steady, almost monochrome). As good as the singular chocolate beginning is, this bar saves the best for last. The end cannot be missed (however subtle), the coalescence of factors truly breath-taking, layering in cocoa, nuts & fruit that few origins can stack with such simultaneity on both the vertical & horizontal planes. And, moreover, so well-harmonized.

Say what one may about Bonnat’s generous buttering methods that sometimes mute a bean’s characteristics, he now ranks as the supreme roaster on the planet. Absolutely pitch-perfect heating curves... a cross between a major league hurler & a world-class glassmaker. His nose knows. Unlike those who set the dials & sit back until a timer sounds the buzzer, Bonnat still goes by the time-honored tradition of the olfactory scent. He can sense & smell his way to victory after chocolate victory.

Chuao Village is no different.

Score it another big winner.

ING: cocoa mass, cacáo butter, sugar

Reviewed January 2011


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