Info Details
Country Vietnam   
Type Dark   (74%)
Strain Hybrid   (T Clonal Series)
Source Vietnam   (Lâm Đồng Province; Madagui / Bao Loc)
Flavor Crossover   (Naked x Fruits/Flowers)
Style Classic      
Vietnamese cacáo generally, & Marou chocolate specifically, continues its dumbfounding rampage thru the premium chocosphere. They snap up awards & accolades at practically every bite.

It's not supposed to be this way... at all. For how can a plant from the Americas thrive in SE Asia after round after round after round of defoliants sprayed on the countryside? And avoid the bulk cocoa status of most of its neighbors?

Such head-scratching illogic belongs with bathroom stall graffiti like 'the difference between those who succeed & those who don't is that those who succeed don't care that they didn't'.


Or try the weirding that can result when science transmogrifies &/or genetically engineers, Dr. Moreau-style (not to be confused with Marou-style), different species together. Such experiments go way beyond Jurassic Park. They're positively crazy unless one is a mad, or just wants to play God. But perhaps humans are supposed to co-create back the world they have stripped of biodiversity.

From all that can be gathered however, Marou chooses to re-create the time-honored old school way.

In their own words, they believe hyper-development contributes to the "loss of wildlife habitat, deforestation, soil erosion, depletion of underground water resources… But the small family farm model is on the whole less detrimental to the environment than the industrial plantation model because they’re exposed to the consequences of their actions one acre at a time, making them more aware of their environmental responsibilities."

Whatever the fertilizer, potassium, nitrogen fixer, or organic compost the good growers in Vietnam sprinkle on their crops, this bar of theirs has some serious chocolate-nitro in it.
Appearance   4.7 / 5
Color: the new runway color -- deep Viet red-brown... call it 'Ma-rouge'
Surface: some of the best-in-da-biz molding; heavy wash strokes on the back
Temper: a twinkler
Snap: polyphonic (in large measure due to criss-crossing diagonal score lines)
Aroma   7.4 / 10
spiced grain (brown rice & pepper) smokes out a wood stove pipe-turned-exhaust fuming kerosene + diesel -> burning rubber -> tar ('n nicotine) in a double down
Mouthfeel   12.1 / 15
Texture: chewing gum
Melt: interminable
Flavor   47.2 / 50
a succession of cocoa bangs... big chocolate, fudge & brownies -> smoked breadfruit / banana flambé -> grilled almonds -> that banana distills lighter / juicier (first langsat, then loquat) -> stalls somewhat... picks a pretty good spot to idle though... until a 2nd wind sweeps in -> proceeds on with more choc, more roasted this round, charred even, with a spice fleck (the cinnamon-meets-anise likeness of perilla) -> rinse & repeats on the nuts / fruits, butter now the fabric softener to their flavors -> leaves behind a purple flourish (the black berry of stringent bignay)
Quality   17.9 / 20
Vietnam & Marou... always an adventure.

A couple years ago, well before Viet cacáo splashed on the scene, sisters Wendy & Susan Lieu, whose heritage inspired them to name their company Sôcôla after the Vietnamese term for 'chocolate', predicted that the Central Highlands there -- which introduced cacáo later than the rest of the country in 2006-07 & encompasses Gia Lai; Phú Yên; Đắk Lắk; Đắk Nông; Lâm Đồng -- “will be better” than cacáo from the Mekong Delta in the south.

Marou's catalog, devoted excliusively so far to Vietnam, features regional micro-origins within that country that exhibit relatively unitary FlavProfiles.

This one differs in a cross between the Naked FlavProfile of Dông Nai & the Fruits 'n Flowers of Ben Tre.

While the ancillaries (especially Texture & less so Aroma) hold the overall rating back some, this shows incredibly sweet for 74%; the extra butter pad the amplifier to the sugar quartile.

Even when bad, Viet cacáo rarely disappoints. And this, the most balanced bar from Vietnam by anyone to date.

Those Sôcôla sisters, a Harvard grad among them, are some prescient women.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Reviewed May 30, 2013


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