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Chuncho

by Shattell
Info Details
Country Peru   
Type Dark   (75%)
Strain Beniano   (possibly)
Source Peru   (Cuzco area)
Flavor Spices & Herbs   
Style Rustic      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
Structure
Length
Impact
In the chocolate universe maybe a handful of legendary & iconic cacáos still remain lost, awaiting recovery.

The mythic cacáo of Chuncho -- often rumored, rarely found -- qualifies for that prestigious short list.

The ancestral land of the Chuncho people in forests east of the Peruvian Andes where, after conquering the Incas, Pizzaro dispatched Peranzures de Campo Redondo in 1538 to explore a river valley filled with cacáo groves now known to flourish long before European contact. His is the earliest extant account of Theobroma cacao trees in the Amazon.

Those trees presumably extended toward Bajo (“Lower”) Bení across the border in Bolivia & could be the progenitor of the ‘wild’ Rio Beni cacáo, or vice-versa.

Their flavor so renowned that it reverberated down thru the centuries as when Fr. Francis Xavier Eder, among the original Western "chocolate critics" (sorry modern day cocoa gurus who anoint themselves as the first) wrote back in the mid 1700s that it was considered the best among all cacáo.

Ergo, in 2010 geneticists verified that wild cacáo southeast of Cuzco, Peru bears similarities to those Bolivian Benianos.

Are they the descendants of the grand cacáo of the Chuncho? And is this chocolate from that lineage?

Ahh, mysteries yet to be revealed...
Appearance   3.9 / 5
Color: dark pewtered-brown
Surface: nucleated by...
Temper: ... plastic wrapper transfer that really polishes the bar well
Snap: echo & reverb
Aroma   9 / 10
a baker's delight
cream-cocoa 'n bread crumbs sprinkled with soft cinnamon
descends some into sweet peppered woods (cubeb) & roots
funghi

all harmoniously arrayed
Mouthfeel   10.5 / 15
Texture: Wax Factor™ bound up as intertwined rope
Melt: choppy
Flavor   45.8 / 50
cocoa in an alfalfa-honey drop -> sweet nut meat (cashew) -> banana-gingerbread manages to slice thru the huge butter barrier for more spices (sassafras [root beer], sweetgrass [Heirochloe odorata - think 'vanilla / coconut']); tonka [especially its straw hay component]) -> cocoa-breadfruit -> the musty marshmallow root -> limestone -> miadenhair fern
Quality   17.2 / 20
Objectionable Texture easily overcome by opportunistic Taste.

Clearly impervious, in addition to imperious, next to Shattell's Satipo as this, unlike that, breaks thru the butter trap with low-flying flavors. A few tweaks to the ancillaries & this chocolate could ascend to greatness.

As per the Beni-Chuncho connection alluded to above: while they share some appreciable CQ™ (i.e., core baseline cocoa flavor) as well as honey to draw some relation, they diverge in their overriding traits. Beniano inheres more Fruits / Flowers, where this a decidedly Spices & Herbs inflection.

If truly an heirloom, call it 'Chuncho domesticated'. Possibly pulled & transplanted once upon a time from Cuzco's nearby wild population that bears small pods / small beans, soft shell, with a sugar-sweet pulp. Shattell's Chuncho bar fits the profile enough to believe that the seeds ground into this chocolate fell from pods close to those trees.

Reviewed November 15, 2013

  

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