Dark 100%

by Menakao
Info Details
Country Madagascar   
Type Brut   (100%; Lot #002-MEN)
Strain Blend   
Source Madagascar   (Millot Estate)
Flavor Twang   (x Earthen)
Style Old School      
Introducing Menakao -- a portmanteau of 'men', meaning 'red' in the local Malagasy dialect, and cacáo, after the tree from which chocolate derives. In short, 'red cacáo' which if all true would also refer to the ruby-colored pods of noble Criollo, some of which found sanctuary on Madagascar (suitably nicknamed the 'Red Island due to its oxide deposits). Madagascar still harbors relics though by no means does Criollo constitute a majority of the crop from this isle.

While logos on packaging can be so much wallpaper nowadays that consumer eyeballs glaze over, many bloggers still gush excitement over every Fair-Trade, organic, UTZ, Biodynamic, this 'n that co-op & the raft of other seals / certificates that litter product packages filling the aisles in stores today. More are coming.

Menakao's business model should double their pleasure & make them downright giddy with ecstacy to learn that... show more »
Appearance   2.9 / 5

Damaged in Transit: a chocolate-puzzle pieced back together for this forensic photo shoot in order to file an insurance claim for a refund (Note to Menakao: upgrade the folds on the box, the glues used for adhering it & the coffin-tight foil which SNUF [Serves No Useful Function] once open)
Color: as usual for a Madagascan... more orange than red
Surface: battered & bruised
Temper: broken-hearted
Snap: shattered
Aroma   8.3 / 10
signature Madagascar: berried woods in pine resin & juniper sap -> add vetiver (hi roast?) -> eventuates cream, papaya & hazelnut -> then rubber & char flints -> ultimately unpeels sopping pineapple
Mouthfeel   11.7 / 15
Texture: dry wax / viscous paste
Melt: slow but short
Flavor   44.5 / 50
fleeting fruit acid planted in potted clay soil (good Earth dirt) -> brief nut interlude until the acids return, this time with a bit of vengeance, sour & caustic, almost metallic (iron ala beef jerky muscle 'n blood) but a tiny sweep-spot of papaya too to offset -> stays mostly grueling like this, the bar roiling over some into Worchestershire sauce before basted in cocoa butter which calms it down some, opening a cloudy window onto faint fruits (ill-defined pineapple, juniper berries + its gin distillate, tart grapefruit & lemon) -> ends hazelnut... & umami sodium hit at the very back
Quality   15.8 / 20
Evidently 'red' for another reason: seemingly hemoglobin-rich.

Though it sits precariously on the verge of one, no violent outbreak or insurrection occurs. This remains fairly well centered & composed within itself thanks to a sufficient butter pad in excess of the nutritional panel which reads way off: a CBS (Cocoa mass / Butter / Sugar ratio) of ~7:5:0 appears highly dubious given the added cocoa butter (plus it lists a ridiculous 25% protein content... please). Wrong in one area, of course, raises suspicions in others as to the veracity of numerous claims put forward by the label. Chalk it up as part of the growing pains of a start-up except Menakao has operated domestically in Madagascar for years under the label Tsar so there are no excuses.

Inevitable comparisons to that other unsweetened Madagascar -- Pralus' Le 100% -- stretch beyond the percentage, the origin, the similarly stern roasting, the FlavProfile. Indeed, they embody former personnel from Pralus now working with Menakao.

This lacks the brilliance & sparkling jewels of Pralus, his endowed with more mineral brightness; the difference between, say, quartz & salt.

Still, it lives up to the wrapper's declaration: "BOLD & PUNCHY". Punchy both in the sense of a little alcoholic thanks to the gin note (a classic punch bowl contains arrack from coconut sap, water, lemon, sugar & spices; this bar has no sugar but the lemon-liekness & that gin validates it) & the Texture definitely shows rather short, thick & fat to fit the definition.

As for the boldness... yes, a very bold first step for a fledgling label into the unsweetened territory where even most vets are afraid to tread.

All in all, quite precocious, even respectable.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, cocoa butter

Reviewed July 9, 2012


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