Ecuador Balao

by Woodblock
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (70%; Batch #4)
Strain EET   (Nacional germplasm)
Source Ecuador   (Balao; Camino Verde)
Flavor Spices & Herbs   
Style Rustic      (Mainstream)
It arrives in a plain brown-paper packet tied up with sewing thread.

So nondescript & consolidated that some would mistake it for one solid brick of chocolate.

Upon opening, little Kit-Kat®-sized finger bars, each individually wrapped, pop out. Quite the nuclear package fused together.

Unlike that popular candy wafer, these arguably mold the most compressed 25 grams of chocolate in the biz.

Congratulations, you've just been Woodblocked.
Appearance   4.2 / 5
Color: slate brown-grey
Surface: wobbly (motion swirls; release marks)
Temper: semi-flat
Snap: warbles
Aroma   8.3 / 10
non-chocolate sauce of herbs & vegetable oils drizzled over greens (artichoke / asparagus)
Mouthfeel   12.5 / 15
Texture: particle grain
Melt: stiff resistance generously prolongs the Flavor
Flavor   44.8 / 50
stone-cocoa -> cookie crumbs -> walnut brownie -> deep fudge pack -> cinnamon brown sugar -> takes a turn on those green Aromatics (above) generalized as a Turkish olive oil here -> back to the spice with gingerbread -> walnut hulls -> coffee bottom -> draws off hay & tonka
Quality   17 / 20
The Balaos are coming... the Balaos are coming... this another in a ongoing series of Meridian Cacao's catalog -- a purveyor of premium cocoa nuts to several barsmiths in North America & a few more around the world.

Very much an identifiable cousin of Rogue's Balao without the über-refinement & ultra-integration (due to differences in equipment as much as understanding) as well as Fruition's less pronounced relative (thanks to a more substantial conche).

All of them originate from Vincente Norero's 1,000-acre estate Camino Verde (incorporated as Cocoa Sulagro) in Balao -- an area of Ecuador where the besieged Nacional has gone to survive. There he offers a selection of up to a half dozen fermentation pre-sets attained thru proprietary-level starter cultures / inocula. Designer chocolate, in other words.

Woodblock Balao squarely fits the Spices & Herbs category being dished up on Vincente's menu but with plenty of core cocoa to sway mainstream consumers. Some great flavor tags play off one another while always resorting to base chocolate taste.

A far cry from this barsmith's earlier Ecuador crafted with a different seed lot harvested elsewhere in the country.

If Rogue Colin Gasko just tools it, then Charley Wheelblock of Woodblock (yeah, a lot of beta-blockers to de-stress on there) really maxes out with all he's got.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar

Reviewed September 10, 2013


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