Vietnam 72%

by Grand-Place
Info Details
Country Vietnam   
Type Semi-Dark   (72%; Batch GPD-072)
Strain Hybrid   (Vintage 2010)
Source Vietnam   (Dông Nai & Ben Tre provinces)
Flavor Spices & Herbs   
Style Classic      
A global construct conjoining Brussel's central square (La Grand-Place guildhall market) & Belgian chocolate traditions to Vietnam sourcing (plus some indeterminate Japanese angle -- silent partner?; packaging design? accounting office?).

Grand-Place works with cocoa producers in Vietnam's Dông Nai & Ben Tre provinces. Similar to Marañón Canyon Chocolate in Peru & other labels, it contracts with Bromans / growers in the field to collect their cacáo pods at a central fermentary for post-harvesting. From there Grand-Place processes the seeds into finished chocolate at a manufactory it built in Thuan An, Binh Duong.

As such, a chocolate that looks & smells very provincial while tasting pretty universal.
Appearance   3.3 / 5

Now that's a real bar... Bens of the past & future? The dollar may be shrinking but chocolate continues to grow (above image true-to-scale). Just as it once served as a currency in pre-Contact Mesoamerica, perhaps too once again now that exchange-traded funds look to diversify their portfolios beyond gold & silver & into diamonds. Maybe cacáo can join the mix.
Color: écru
Surface: scarred
Temper: PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Snap: unbreakable will... super-thick pour which, along with lecithin, helps combat tropical meltdown conditions of hi-temps / hi-humidity where this is all planted, produced, processed & packaged (for further discussion see the Quality section of Danta's Guatemalan White)
Aroma   7.1 / 10
Banh mi (oh my!)... incredibly odd & extremely unique: smokes the wrapper right off, very hammy (over fermented?) as in a pork-entrails combination-platter & anything thereof -- sliced gan cham (liver), pork kidneys with bean sprouts, Heo Xao Cai Chua (pickled pig intestines), Duon Heo Nudng (bbq pork chop) with Nem Nuong of course (barbecued pork paste), & how 'bout some pig's feet on sticky rice? -- a sort of all-in-one Banh Cuon Nhan Thit Cha Lua wrapped in lemongrass, done over wood chips & served on a pickled bamboo leaf -> out gasses rubber & more typical cocoa-aromas (leather & tobacco); quite terroir driven & origin specific
Mouthfeel   12.8 / 15
Texture: a chew-chew train... soft couverture butter-padding
Melt: lecithin long & fat
Flavor   44.6 / 50
5-leaf akebia a k a 'chocolate vine' for its scent of cocoa-vanilla -> coffee (that transmutes later in the length) -> spiced fig (Vietnamese cinnamon) -> mild cashew -> longan & marang fruits -> carob & chicory -> a nut-wood (walnut) straightens up into aged-oak & oud (the latter a fragrant resin from agar wood; the combo really rhapsodizes) -> brownie interspersed with light sichuan -> ambrette a k a rose mallow (rich, sweet, slight floral, heavy musk-like with a tobacco-edge) -> as with the Aroma, some gas-fired flavors at the very end... betel / liquid smoke (from mechanically-dried seeds)
Quality   17 / 20
Nondescript start handicapped by Belgian-style: very creamy with just a brush of darkness, & that from a pretty warm roast.

A couverture heavily-weighted on the pal (for palate) with added cocoa butter seemingly in excess of the stated CBS (Cocoa mass / Butter / Sugar ratio) of ~8:10:7. Hence, underpowered; quite sweet for 72% due in large measure to that butter as much as sugar.

Could benefit from re-apportioning the ratios to bring up the highlights which for the most part hide beneath the butter & vanilla -- beautiful though they may be. To be expected of couverture, which calls into question the use of origin cacáo in it since any special characteristics will be diluted further because couverture typically ends up in cookies, cupcakes & other pastries.

Still, Grand-Place's Vietnam 72 assumes an in-depth character by the end with a haunting presence for the aftermath.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract

Reviewed May 17, 2012


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