Blanco de Criollo

by Amedei
Info Details
Country Italy   
Type Dark   (70%; #04.724)
Strain Nacional   
Source Peru   (Piura)
Flavor Naked   (with Spices/Herbs)
Style Classic      
As the British Empire continues its retreat to the “emerald isle” as Shakespeare put it, England itself has paradoxically become cosmopolitan rather than provincial because of it. The empire coming home to roost in the best sense. That it straddles the North Atlantic with one foot leaning toward Europe & the other America translates into a side porch view of history which sometimes visits its own doorstep.

A couple chocolate awards shows emanating from there reflect this split stance.

And likewise their respective gold medal winners – one show awarded Pacari’s 70% Cacao Raw & another crowned this Blanco de Criollo by Amedei -- divide the 2 distinct camps of chocolate flavor profiles & styles.

Since neither of these entered the competitive field of the other (professional courtesy?), somebody had to break the tie & who better than the C-spot®?

And the winner is… show more »
Appearance   2.9 / 5
Color: not pale as expected for the seed type (see Quality section below) but po-faced
Surface: a mess (& not a hot one) -- scuffs, chips, nicks, smudges, fingerprints (seriously... someone's mitts left their paw prints on this crime scene)
Temper: ruinous fudge
Snap: ah, saved by the Snap -- a punching machine (a li'l tight but packs heft & wallop); solid edge wall
Aroma   9.3 / 10
a snuggle roast
so warm & cozy to rekindle Amedei's heyday... particularly its earlier Porcelana releases, as though it hopped over the border from Venezuela carrying golden nuts & seeds (macadamia, blanched almonds, cashew, & sesame), breadcrumbs drizzled in olive oil & laurel leaves over flint wood (what is it about their Tuscan oven? Or cocoa butter?)
and, oh, the cocoa -- deep, rich & unforgettably abiding -- just want to get close
sighs an odd final exhale of cigarette puff & cherry blossoms
Mouthfeel   13.8 / 15
Texture: friction-free / imperceptibly smooth gel
Melt: in tempo; keeps perfect 4/4 time
Flavor   46.9 / 50
a near transfer of the Aromatics, minus the blossoms, plus the following:
flushes in hot cocoa
vanilla choc cake
walnut brownies
chocolate butter cream icing
aniseed filaments + a glancing side angle of acidity
Quality   18 / 20
Let's tackle the ancillaries first, starting with the misnomer.

The first half legit - Blanco - means 'white' & refers to the color of this cacáo's seeds. The second part -- Criollo -- misleads at a minimum &, worse, maybe intentionally manipulates the market.

A Spanish word that translates as “native” or “indigenous”, Criollo in chocolate could denote a specific varietal of cacao originally domesticated by Mesoamericans that earned it a flavorful reputation, or more colloquially to anything grandpa planted in the backyard. Today many chocolates claim to be Criollo — many more than could actually be produced — in order to leverage its marketing appeal.

But 'banco' as in Banco Popular = mucho money.

What does this say about the "fine chocolate" niche when one of its most renowned barsmiths conducts such a spurious campaign? It speaks to ignorance or abuse. If the former, due diligence would be in order; if the latter, then this becomes a 'cease & desist' matter.

Either way, it's poor & shoddy.

Amedei should man-up the way Bojesen recently did with its Oialla & call a spade a spade. In this case, enough DNA tests confirm that the preponderance of Piura's white-seeded cacáo belongs to the extended Nacional family. Guess that just ain't sexy enough for this Italian designer. Would Domori makes such a mistake? Or even Agostoni?

Further, it reflects equally poorly on an organization that awards this its gold medal without calling the company out on this egregious ploy (with the caveat that perhaps a less than 5% chance exists that somehow this cacáo fits the Criollo genotype).

It all speaks to the generalized dearth of custodial care & rigor when it comes to nomenclature, appellations, & stewardship of genetic materials in this field. Abysmal really; even potatoes & tomatoes surpass cacáo in this respect. No wonder thieves recently pulled a heist on a cargo of Nutella; they realize, high or low brow, it makes no difference as long as it reads 'chocolate'. (Then again, Nutella possibly staged the whole caper & "stole" its own product to garner publicity).

Enough diatribe, what about the intrinsics? The core flavor & experience of this bar?

A chocolate-chocolate. Simplicity re-constituted. About as Naked a Flav Profile as a chocolate can get. The ballyhooed berries / plums never really materialize, at least for this particular bar.

One of the most fruit-free Amedei's ever. Startling for a company that stepped out of the shadow as an understudy once to Valrhona -- that French house known originally for goopy raisin-carnation chocolate.

Virtually flawless execution. Some may squawk about roasting-on-the-edge of an inferno but Amedei keeps the heat on this side of perishability / survivability. It certainly catalyzes tremendous Maillard reactions -- pyrazines & aldehyde, classes of chemical compounds, bouncing all over the roof of the mouth, never winded, for a pure chocolate sensation.

Nowhere near as dynamic as some Puiras (Quemazón) or fruitful (the initial Rogue iteration). Some might ridicule it as 'Blank-o' compared to them. No, this joins the league of Puiras like Original Beans, Morin & Lillie Belle. Yet it delivers what many of those (& most bars worldwide) often lack: hi-CQ (core baseline chocolate free from interfering volatiles). As such Amedei follows the contours & especially the warmth found in Bonnat's Piura.

A combination of seed selection, processing, & vanilla (the last to flatter & fill-in the gaps with finesse for idealized symmetry & cohesion). All conspire for some unusually uniform consistency, to the point that it almost verges on a standardized generic blend.

And maybe so. Unsubstantiated rumors persist that Amedei mislabels bars. Concocting blends, for instance, from sundry places & calling them single-origin. If true, it might help validate the name of this bar should part of it hail from provinces around, say, Lake Maracaibo!

For even the bittering passage rises to the level of "fine bitters"; mainly char at that &, given the genotype, primarily manufactured in the processing itself (that roast again).

Who knows, with taste like this it just might be Criollo after all... dosed with some Amelonado. In all likelihood, though, the absence of the pigmentation gene in these whites, causing a low polyphenol content, is what attributes for the streamline chocolate flavor.

Amedei, missing from the conversation the last few seasons, rejoins the discussion with a seat near the head of the table. Welcome back.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla

Reviewed April 15, 2013


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