Raw 70% Cacao 2013

by Pacari
Info Details
Country Ecuador   
Type Semi-Dark   (70%; Lot BD-1020412)
Strain Nacional   
Source Ecuador   
Flavor Fruits & Flowers   
Style retro-American      
A chocolate with more labels on the packaging than a NASCAR driver has endorsements. But this is no ordinary vanity bar.

Naturally it sports the Demeter Biodynamic sticker at a remove above & beyond organic, shown symbolically by its seal way on top of the USDA Organic patch at the bottom (click image at right to enlarge).

It also affixes EC Bio from Euro certifiers, BSC ÖKO Garantie (how many time does this have to pass organic filters to be deemed so?), & Kosher to boot. Since Pacari sources locally in Ecuador from small stakeholders who practice inter-cropping &, reportedly, pays them a premium, Fair-Trade + Rainforest Alliance are de facto if unofficial.

One stamp missing but shall undoubtedly be included if they can find space: show more »
Appearance   3.6 / 5
Color: cranberry-brown
Surface: abused with soft brush strokes on the front & lightly whipped swirls on the airside
Temper: depressed
Snap: fighting words; striated edge
Aroma   8.2 / 10
archetypal Ecuador: old growth forest, massive hardwoods towering over herbaceous meadows
oddly warm (supposedly "raw", re: unroasted) thanks to well-dried, evoking a certain time of day / time of year; all good until...
raw cocoa edges cut thru... the caulk & gout, the musty / moldy sheet rock
alternate stone & some 'hammy' emissions at the back exhaust
hurry!, consume... the more it aerates the bloom comes off & loses its appeal
Mouthfeel   13.8 / 15
Texture: full-bodied
Melt: metronomically even
Flavor   45.5 / 50
same as it ever was... releases immediately in seemingly engineered waves of awakened taste, never fury -- reds all around bursting with almost manipulated intensity.... moraberry leading the pack -> currant -> a multi-fruited dimension over raw underdeveloped cocoa (beans / legumes, yucca & mellocos [belonging to the potato family]) -> bittering under-ride -> fruit rolls over into citrus stringency (camu-camu / passion fruit) & pushes to the center -> goes to seed & dirt -> wine wash -- quite vinous with must / skins attached (Cabernet-like / puff-the-magic-dragon springing a little alcohol) -> whiff of ham-boned hyper-fermentation in the side recesses & leather before the mahoganies, laurels, bamboos & tall woods hanging over from the Aroma enclose above a bluestone, coconut shell, & green banana finish
Quality   17.9 / 20
Wild fruit concentration.

Raw? If so, then this is treated to a real conche - at higher speed & shear to generate enough temperature to bring out some core chocolate notes & level off (to a degree) the jagged spikes that plagues most raw cacáo products. It successfully transmutes for the most part "raw's" customary sheet rock taste into leather-bound bluestone.

Raw chocolate” in quotes to mimic the debonair rep of Pacari who answers the point-blank question ‘just how raw this is?’ with a wink & nod. Lest everyone feel completely hoodwinked, when words fail, up pops the self-explanatory "cold fermentation process".

Cacáo fermentation is an involved dynamic that generates heat in the neo-tropics in order to develop pre-cursors that critically shape a finished chocolates the end-flavor. A thermocline that, hence, requires turning to evenly distribute heat. Hard-pressed for anybody to manifest the fruit-packs in this bar without such a ferment unless Pacari adds dehydrated pulp juice during the refinement.

Either that or divine intervention rising to an article of faith.

Indeed, no smoke 'n mirrors heresy here, seems "cold ferment" in chocolate (as opposed to pizza dough, beer, & wine) hails from the same skool of alchemy as the Immaculate Conception. Seeing how Springtime celebrates fertility & Easter eggs, everyone can believe that.

In any event, Pacari adheres to a "raw" protocol about as assiduously as anyone in the industry. So consider it more "raw" than most.

But still curious... on this & other fronts.

The packaging claims no added cocoa butter yet lists a CBS (Cocoa mass / Butter / Sugar ratio) of 1:2:2. How can that be? Apparently erroneous (unintentional?). 40% sugar would equal 60% cacáo-content instead of the advertised 70%. (Cacáo's inherent sugars are unlikely to amass 10% or so of total weight -- except for that pulp trick.) And while some of the fattest cacáo seeds on record have a fat-to-mass ratio of 3:2, none tip the scales at 2:1 as this purports.

Those sidebars notwithstanding, while this chocolate lacks the depth of the leading world-beaters, it displays surprisingly smooth fruit contour (primarily the function, again, of fermenting pulp) if little traditional chocolate flavor (the role of roasting, absent here), & a superb finish.

A bit vacant to be sure as the fruit overlays a hollow chocolate base. But that avoids the off-centered chocolate flavor that gradually lost tannic structure from vintages past of this bar & cost it cohesion... those profiles ultimately randomized & disintegrated, giving way below to the usual raw cacáo factors (caulk, chalk, grout, cardboard, stinking strawflower, etc.) which grew to consume fruit sugars into decay like Carrie reaching up from the grave & pulling everything/everyone down with her.

Nowadays Pacari exerts deft control & alignment of the volatiles, at such hi-def clarity; so clear the accents, it could be in techni-color; beautiful throughout with lots of pride. And clean, by raw or roasted chocolate standards, after-taste too.

For instance, where its Nubé bar plays pretty much a one-note (but what a note), this orchestrates a broader array with more brass, more in character with the company's Piura Quemazón.

Pacari demonstrating the possibilities of unorthodox processing, in an even more radical way than Domori's low-impact approach.

Its understanding of chocolate culture continues to deepen & its technique advances way beyond the competition in the "raw" space & gives the rest of the entire premium field a run for their money as well.

One of those bars that choc-snobs & gen'l haters will want to tear open & rip on for being "raw", pretentious & expensive to justify their rage except for its ability to pacify them with one verity: content.

Now that Pacari has just won a gold medal -- congratulations -- what is it going do next? Vend at Disney World?

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, sunflower lecithin

Reviewed March 19, 2013


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