by Fortaleza del Valle
Info Details
Country Ecuador   
Type Semi-Dark   (60%)
Strain Nacional   (partial germplasm)
Source Ecuador   (Calceta, Manabí)
Flavor Crossover   (Fruits/Flowers x Spices/Herbs)
Style Old School      
There are 2 kinds of crime: one requires serving the full sentencing time, & the other a celebrity-felony (probation with maybe some community service thrown in).

This prematurely came with a chalk outline around the bar, thanks to poor shipping-&-handling by a well-known undercover operator (see Quality section below). While its Appearance looks DOA, featuring a Snap louder than a jackal's cackle over the mauling of a lion-heart, the Flavor comes alive, a brave survivor showing once more that in the end what counts most is on inside.
Appearance   2.3 / 5
Color: hi ‘n dri dirt
Surface: marbled bloom city
Temper: dead dull
Snap: respectable considering its condition
Aroma   8.1 / 10
coastal tropics: ocean breeze ions, cocoplum, coco-palm, purslane & sea grapes -> cocoa bark; generally down & out though
Mouthfeel   9.4 / 15
Texture: dry powder / sandy
Melt: constipated
Flavor   45.9 / 50
instant chocolate-cinnamon (very direct & deep, vanilla working the vein, despite abysmal Texture) -> melts thru... check that, dissolves to blackberry transport on sugar -> pumps the brakes stopping for dim orange blossom in the far back recesses -> peanut coda + post-ipso raw cotton-cocoa
Quality   15.1 / 20
A “producer’s bar” on behalf of the Fortaleza Del Valle cooperative that cultivates well-preserved old-trees mixed with some newer INIAP “Arriba”, placing them on top of the curve in terms of agronomic technology as well as cacáo conservation. They harvest in & around Manabí, a “dry” province experiencing very little rainfall / humidity except for the Rio Chone Valley. Therefore very limited edition / one-shot production; not for export, this probably never leaves the neighborhood – just a local flavor of how the growers themselves like it.

And where, exactly, have the likes of the shape & size of this package been seen before? None other than Pacari – the celeb manufacturer of this bar. While some may jump to conclusions that it’s just Pacari’s Manabí with 5% less cacáo-content, this actually parallels the taste found RdC’s 75%!

But so badly damaged in transit, this bar is in need of excavation. Poor handling & storage once this left the workshop (conditions savaging the temper & sabotaging some taste, decimating the Structure & leaving the Mouthfeel in tatters) creates reduced ability to get much of a glimpse on the processing.

Nonetheless, a chocolate that rekindles hopes of what might-have-been that could-still-be.

Archetypal Nac’l flavors - what made the breed famous - minus the jasmine. High sugaring (40%) steers clear of coffee. About the lowest-rated hi-grade bar in the Census™.

Reviewed January 2011


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