Info Details
Country Italy   
Type Dark   (90%; Lot #F1011)
Strain Blend   
Source Ecuador   
Flavor Earthen   (Flat Earth Society)
Style Classic      
Storm track warning: batten down the hatches, board up the windows, stock up on the duct tape, & bring a change of clothes... only amounts to psychic comforts. The damage already done - too late to think about the insurance deductible. And forget FEMA; a 1st responder's shock wave that'll blow you away to a really longview of tropical paradise (see Quality section below).
Appearance   5 / 5
simultaneously intimidating & magnetic
Color: ebony
Surface: impressions scored into panels like Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise; even backside whorls appear divined by design
Temper: polyurethane
Snap: clicks & shears a super straight edge
Aroma   9.3 / 10
no calm before the storm: skips the fruits & flowers & makes a B-line for the powerhouse complex; among the deepest Arriba allures ever (somewhat expected at this % yet so muscular, defined, & walloping there’s cause for alarm): wood, espresso + tea, humus / mushroom forest, nuts (icl coco) & saturated chocolate cut by just a faint breeze too elaborate to be blackberry, more intricate like boysenberry; screams ‘bring it all’
Mouthfeel   9.7 / 15
Texture: fractured
Melt: relatively low astringency, (odd for Nacional); but overall a gritty disappointment
Flavor   28.7 / 50
drops a recoiling double espresso right off -> mushrooms scrapped off the forest floor, humus included -> rapidly goes south & deflates in a stunning collapse at the mid-palate, taking on the countenance of Slitti's other ill-fated bar in its Super Novanta duo - Amazzonia; goes nowhere / does nothing except descend into wet wooly cotton schlubs, barking spider webs, & coffee dregs that drone on to death... ridiculoitus - insane length just loiters grievously for days until gritty/gravelly Bosco cocoa powder dug out of a cemetery ditch mercifully ends it; in the after-life, Ecuador's prized Nacional cacáo diamonds fossilize to never-sleep peanuts
Quality   6.4 / 20
Darkness defiled. Huge letdown / dream-killer for '08. In the past this was one of the benchmark Ecuadors. Fondeurs would just have to re-melt it in a different mold & slap their own label on to tremendous acclaim - so 'sick 'n nasty', as they say, that's how good it was. Either Slitti's jumping the shark, entering the subprime market, failing to conduct due diligence (Ecuador's rep for shoddy post-harvest methods shows here - a bad batch or off-vintage / rainy season crop, with no escalage, further aggravated by an incinerator roast put on once the beans hit Italy) or he operates under the Prada model: take last year's unsold/now-out-of-fashion inventory, step on the price 5-fold, then ship to America where NY & LA will suck to it.

In a wider sense, this bar demos the vagaries of cacáo from crop to crop, & within each house, pointing to the difficulty in maintaining consistency let alone excellence. Which makes ratings, in general, over-rated. They can only serve as a general guideline to navigating treacherous currents bound to change from season to season, just as any trip down a river would.

That this should be an appeal to the cacáo world, so bent on wine comparisons, to at least take the page out of the vintners' handbook about custodial care of varietal strains, bringing greater science to bear, & best-practices too rarely seen in cacáo where productivity & yields trump all other considerations (flavor included), because, hey, with enough sugar & vanilla, it'll taste like chocolate & that's all "they", the masses, want.

Maybe next year Tropicale will return to form. Then again, this may signal the beginning, Edgar Allen Poe style, of the Fall of the House of Slitti.


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