Info Details
Country Switzerland   
Type Semi-Dark   (bordering a Dark 70%)
Strain Blend   (ICS; TSH; EET; R Clonal Series; +)
Source Costa Rica   (Alajuela; Bijagua de Upala; Finca La Amistad)
Flavor Crossover   (Earthen x Fruits/Flowers)
Style Classic      
Just peach blossoms waiting to be bruised & battered by the falling giants of the rainforest.

Miraculously they survive the crush.
Appearance   2.8 / 5
Color: purpling brown
Surface: dime-sized discs (couverture)
Temper: semi-dull
Snap: commensurate to its size: small
Aroma   9 / 10
upmarket patisserie
pastry puff with butter & cream + just the faintest touch of peach
airs cocoa dust & vanilla
enticing, even enchanting
Mouthfeel   14.2 / 15
Texture: supple flex
Melt: totally sublime… as gentle as the delicate lapping of the 72-hour traditional longitudinal conch from whence it emerged
Flavor   44.6 / 50
easy opening on butter -> hardwood charges in all over (ceibo)… bigger & bolder than crashing in on a house roof -> vanilla orchids -> remote blossoms, including aforementioned peach from the Aroma -> black mission fig -> coffee berry -> peach somehow persists thru the wooded pounding (the durable pilón) -> raw bitter woods ear mushroom... rights itself toward bread 'n marmalade -> unexpected gianduia finish
Quality   16.3 / 20
A chocolate sourced from Costa Rica's Upala region, an area no stranger to The Chocolate Census, introduced to the consuming world perhaps most continuously via the bars of Ben Rasmussen at Potomac Chocolate.

Virtually all of Costa Rica (CR) sits rich in biodiversity. That FInca La Amistad, from whence the cacáo in this chocolate originates under the proprietorship of Juan Büchert, lies within the buffer zone of Tenorio National Park to the country's northwest simply condenses that abundance.

Truth be told, though, very little to nothing has ever emanated from CR in the premium chocolate world worth noting. The combination of oddly unsatisfying terra (however diverse) &, moreover, suspect genetics (due to the nearby CATIE seed bank & its intense breeding programs that privilege cacáo designed for production & disease-resistence rather than Flavor, turning a once-proud & noble cacáo culture into a cocoa wasteland). Any CR which grabs attention owes largely to the workup of the barsmith who optimizes or imparts a maker's mark on the bar. The best example being early Steve De Vries.

Unlike many barsmiths nowadays that issue single-origin chocolates as if playing some spin-the-globe roulette, Felchlin proceeds with its Grand Cru line only after careful due diligence & planning.

This 70% follows suit.

Amistad: 75 hectares growing mainly cacáo & some hardwoods. The former a mash-mix of 36 compatible types including ICSs 1, 39, 60, 95; EET 400; TSH 465 + the highly-touted R-clonal Series bred by CATIE.

Heretofore untasted hedonics from CR. Most significantly peaches, to recall the halcyon walks of Jamaican cacáo. Positively stunning. Doubly so considering that such fragile tags emanate in & around & thru a forested flavor redoubt (owing in some part to the laurel used for fermentation boxes). As though Felchlin took a peach tree & shoved it whole into a bar -- roots, trunk, bark, branches & leaves attached, along with the drupes too of course.

The highs rather weak, the mids & the lows quite strong, in oppositional character: subtle & soft peach versus hard tall wood. And while the lumber hammers down, the fruit never entirely submits. The sweetness-to-size ratio naturally favors the wood; but the fruit just succulent enough to serve at least as a resilient offset to the harsher elements.

Except for those sweet accents, this would be just another plank from Costa Rica. Because of them, the way out of the country's chocolate morass tastes possible.

If CATIE, Amistad, & Felchlim re-proportion the profile, it could be to an important addition to the global chocolate library.

Reviewed July 16, 2014


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