North Queensland 66

by Zokoko
Info Details
Country Australia   
Type Dark   (in tone; 66%)
Strain Hybrid   (SG2 Clone from Papua New Guinea)
Source Australia   (North Queensland; Mossman Gorge)
Flavor Crossover   
Style Rustic      
The Chocolate of Oz

A world premiere: the first cacáo harvested in North Queensland to hit the int’l scene & the first to be so recognized anywhere.

North where? Follow the yellow brick road... to... what the au Canada?

Other side of the globe, mate.

Just across from Papua New Guinea, North Queensland is the only one of 3 experimental regions in Australia deemed feasible for growing cacáo. The 35 hectares under cultivation there share with Bolivia the distinction to sit among the southern extremity where cacáo grows. And with Hawai’i -- at the northern extreme -- it shares an equally challenging microclimate that can be colder & windier than the norm, often necessitating bacterium to inoculate the ferment cycle & cauldrons for drying the seeds amidst the volcanic soil.

A prototype for sure, strictly under development, with this caveat: taste like this rarely lies, so before anyone laughs it off as some kangaroo-chocolate, remember Aussie beer, wine, & olive oil were once looked down upon too.

The theobromans (or cacáo tenders) of Mossman Gorge in North Queensland, wizened by raising sugar cane for years, have replanted the fields to once more prove skeptics wrong.

They’re clearly on the right track, tilling the soil described as a Mission Series (red massive earth formed on alluvial fans with fine loam & sand) into a brown buttered path.

Appearance   4.1 / 5
Color: the Jasper City of brown
Surface: Zokoko’s usual hard brush job over bubbles
Temper: self-absorbed
Snap: perky
Aroma   7.7 / 10
intensely Amazonian in character, very sylvan & riparian -> creeping vines climb to a sun-dried herbal green (mimicking olive leaf) + cocoa dust above the tree tops -> hard spice flint suggests the encroachment of modern clones (the CCN-51 countenance of ishpinga / cinnamon) -> only the odd down-under barley hops brings it closer to home along with a breaded element
Mouthfeel   12.6 / 15
Texture: among the smoothest 66%
Melt: slightly discontinuous
Flavor   45 / 50
volcanic chocolate weaves about a latticework of honeycomb -> hits a pomegranate sweet spot -> trace star anise backed in minor cardboard effaced by cocoa tannins -> pine resin to faint pineapple -> cardboard returns as burlap in support of a “raw cocoa” edge -> clears away cool lavalache chocolate
Quality   17.2 / 20
Very auspicious start for a continent just introducing itself to cacáo.

Jagged around the edges (cardboard / burlap mar the finish) denotes some issues with post-harvesting that will only improve as growers in North Queensland gain experience.

Apt comparisons to both Boliva and Hawai’i in the overall black quality of flavor. In Australia’s case -- at least for this chocolate -- more streamline / less ebullient, & probably darker than either of those if projecting above & beyond the 34% sugar. The volcanic nature also parallels Hawai’i – both sit on neighboring tectonic plates -- as well as to a lesser degree Grenada which sits on a whole different shift though, again, its cacáo imparts lava-like flavors in the chocolate made from it.

This bar stores enough force to flow thru the sugar & added butter – those staples very much in Zokoko’s craft to satisfy local market preferences. And the company works it with home pride: digitally-controlled lo-roast (evidenced in the raw edge) balanced by a hi-conche (see Texture) to befit the origin & where it presently stands in its chocolate culture evolution.

Just 35 hectares & a stand of cacáo trees are ample enough to make Oz a destination on the cocoa map.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cacáo butter, lecithin


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