Info Details
Country France   
Type Semi-Dark   (64%; Batch LP7513190)
Strain Hybrid   (Vintage 2013)
Source Dominican Republic   (Maria Trinidad Sanchez; Domaine Loma Sotavento)
Flavor Fruits & Flowers   (x Naked)
Style Classic      
Chevalier d'Éon inspired the now-obsolete term eonism. It applies to a man adopting female dress & mannerisms. In other words, a drag queen.

He was a French noble, soldier, & spy who lived In the 18th century first as a male & then as a female. His cross-dressing apparently began as part of his covert activities; but by the 1770s, rumors swirled about how the Chevalier was actually a woman masquerading as a man. Thereafter s/he was ordered to live as a woman.

Eons ago Valrhona stood, to the uninitiated at least, as the standard-bearer for "haute chocolate". Now the grand-dame of the fine-chocolate scene has quite a bit of company.

Been awhile since much was released from this house of secrecy, which shrouds its every breathe to heighten its mystique.

Safe to state that gone are the gloppy / goopy raisin tendencies when Valrhona ruled this premium micro-domain, replaced by gentler folds of flavor (a plus). And in a bid to stay au courant, Valrhona follows in the footsteps of Vestri, Prieto, SPAGnVOLA & others who also tend to their own properties in the "it" destination for cacáo groves this past decade: The Dominican Republic.

The D.R. hosts abundant cacáo diversity & hybrids to sprout crossover flavor profiles, though it arguably leans towards the machismo side.

Valrhona, or Val for short, plays off that dynamic in this bar containing cocoa cultivated on its own estate christened Domaine Loma Sotavento. Enough so to change Val's name to Hal.

Cross-dressed chocolate.
Appearance   4.7 / 5

Color: orange-rouge (almost a Madagascar cast)
Surface: dressed-up; with modernist artisanal scoring ala some Japanese rock garden carved with chop sticks to render individually-sized portions
Temper: polished petals within a matte-matrix
Snap: caws tight with striations underneath
Aroma   7.9 / 10
drifts a wee bit off-island for a D.R.
cocoa-cream & flint-dried horsetail (from the animal as much as the herb)
stately & reserved (despite stirring some café)
Mouthfeel   13.7 / 15
Texture: glycerin slick
Melt: seamless groove
Flavor   44 / 50
reminiscent of Valrhona's original Dominican called Taïnori
teasing / fleeing fruit (grape & starfruit) -> explicit fudge brownie -> another fruit: fresh apricot… holds this dual track (chocolate dipped apricot) until… white lightening strikes (direct sucrose) with lightly-charred bits in their wake -> amaretto closing
Quality   15.8 / 20
Loma Sotavento means a leeward hillside sheltered from the wind.

Temperamental cacáo, ever the botanical diva, likes neither too much nor too little light; neither too much nor too little moisture; neither too much nor too little heat; neither too much nor too little minerals. Ditto the wind. It wants everything just right, kind of like humans.

Whatever, this bar could stand a little more breeze & less support from cane sugar.

Exceptionally clean if less than altogether clear. Low-intensity but quite giving, the impressions flicker ever so delicately save for some of the bottom notes.

Painstaking refinement. Perhaps too hyper refined actually. Never as much as a mere particle in this suspension out of place. All speaks of a certain equilibrium. The perfect French specimen: a single gust would blow this away except Valrhona tethers the waif-like flavors to a solid core-cocoa pole of hi-CQ (for Chocolate Quotient), the ying-yang / masculine-feminine aspects of this assemblage. Wise move.

Despite the use of brown sugar, Valrhona staunches the typical molasses runoff from it & hems this chocolate with fashion.

But in pouring more than one-thrid sugar crystals, it emasculates these cocoa nuts, even neuters them somewhat, a rarity for Dominican Republic's generally potent cacáos. Sums up 'mightily pusillanimous'.

A fine bar for sure; just could be a little more forceful than fussy.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin; CBS (Cocoa mass / Butter / Sugar ratio): 5/8/7

Reviewed January 15, 2014


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