Info Details
Country France   
Type Dark   (70%)
Strain Criollo   (generalized structure group)
Source Venezuela   
Flavor Crossover   
Style Classic      (x New School interpretations)
Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to 
rock the boat -- 

Jean-Paul Sartre

Franck Morin has now released so many differing single-origin / single-estate bars, which clearly required some heavy paddling across the globe in sourcing them, that he could never be accused of mutiny in any existential-chocolate sense.

Virtually all of them uphold a classic bearing, nothing turbulent to upend & capsize the craft.

Just solid direction-honed chocolate reflecting & respecting their home ports.

Ahh, but as Derrida would say, avec une différance… oo-la-la.

Here now a bounty from one of the most renowned of all cacáo destinations (Venezuela) & a barsmith who knows the course (Morin). He amongst the few to simultaneously forge ahead & make waves (as in submarine currents really)... his oars cut so smoothly it sends a shiver 'n a shudder down the rudder -- & things just ain't the same again.

Appearance   3.7 / 5
Color: pinkish boardwalks
Surface: brushed clean
Temper: absorbent
Snap: creaks & groans
Aroma   8.3 / 10
royal warrants for the rights of man
soft earth, subtle grains, sublimated fruits (e.g., Carenero -- melons in a summer rain)
one unexpected exception: Guacare which extends a turgid raisin-molasses, though it too eventually abets to tobacco, then mellows over hay
Mouthfeel   13.8 / 15
Texture: cryptocrystallization
Melt: long… & longed-for
Flavor   47.4 / 50
Lot 150914; Barlovento; Miranda
pops in chocolate, then the fruits get busy (papaya & june berry), nuts too (macs & cash) -> levels off grains -> creamy tapioca -> late barrel spice enjoins honeyed caramel (inhering vanilla, of course)

Carenero as it is / as it should be

aka Rio Caribe; Lot 091214; Sucre State
light-breaking for a Rio Caribe / Carupano (breadfruit) but only briefly -> darkens as expected & flickers a momentary celery seed (rare) -> hits another soft fruit bump, this one red -> lightly bitter almond -> gushes forth mocha -> cola & frangipani

Classic, big-bold, right in the mouth

Prototype Production; Merida / Zulia
fudged-up right up -> starfruit against a brownie counter -> tart finger (glorious guarana) -> thin bitter thread (quercitin) heralds chicory root, acidity continues to match… now guava verging on wild or at least feral passionfruit

Just the second Guasare to enter The Chocolate Census after Domori (two if counting its related cousin Mara). This pale-seeded varietal produces an off-pink brown colored bar here, still dark enough though to attribute that to the roast or to wonder just how Guasare is this?
And quite a dark tone for a Morin; roasted on the upper edge & yet so vibrant too. All comports well with each other & with itself. Indeed, amazing juxtapose twixt the char & the citric of near-exquisite equipoise. The latter causes a re-assessment of this varietal's flavor profile -- more in line with the aforementioned Mara than the Domori Guasare.
Either way, a revelation deserving of its own separate review.

Lot 021014; Aragua
scent evokes a private library (plush leather on high-back armchairs, rectory tables, wainscoting, Persian rugs & port-brandy)... on the tongue the port leads out, owing grapes skins in its wake -> fruit complex (granadilla + naranjilla), background oaken woods transitions into woods ear mushrooms -> sour cherry -> apricot -> cocona -> achingly aged brandy (phenomenal)… pisco sour… peat… tonka

Skip the pairing exercises of chocolate with wine or single-malt, this incorporates its own.
An Ocumare unlike any other -- in just one measure of how different, precious little CQ (for Chocolate Quotient or baseline core cocoa) from a cultivar oft-noted for an abundance of it. Those compounds racked instead into deeper inflections.
Huge, vast, structured, architectural… a towering bar on which every floor situates a flavor drawer; borders on redefining 'complexity' in chocolate.
Practically accomplishes what Soma's Stratus achieved with Ocumare but without the external manipulation; whereas that gushes exuberantly, this sublimates the depths of heights & vice-versa.
From a barsmith with several stellar releases, Ocumare 70% arguably his greatest.

Lot 091214; Merida / Zulia
the fragrance out of the wrapper gives this away: strong cocoa-nuts (classic Venzy macs submerged in a milkish choc) -> lite spice (sassafras) -> easy banana leaf -> back strawberry… as much 'straw' as 'berry'… ergo, the hay which follows -> earlier macs re-surface as cashew -> roasted element (as in the Periodic Table of…) at the very fringe (copper) -> warm (rather than hot) cocoa topped with marshmallow -> brownie-cookie in the aft-linger

The Grand Empress of cacáo -- perennial as ever. So correct: heritage-quality / vintage-level… Morin nails it.

Puerto Cabello
Lot 080914; Aragua / Carabobo
tobacco leaf -> flirts with molasses then turns to dried myrrh sweetener -> acacia gum -> labdanum -> prune-riberry liqueur

Venzy-cum-Viet; trippy. Out-of-character / off-base for this regional varietal / origin yet all-good.

This, along with a couple others in the collection, re-introduces these fabled cacáo groves with fresh takes that open eyes & dilate taste-buds for everyone but the most jaded who've 'had it' & so require abrasive solvents (re: acerbic / acidic / astringent bars) to scrub their mouths out & open the sensory pathways leading to the cortical response area (somatosensory cortices + the anterior, mid & posterior insula) of the brain that controls taste, aroma, & how flavors are perceived.

Bottom Line: some apparently super-select seeds & Morin germinates the flavor from there.


NOTE: Lot #s indicate all these bars were tempered & wrapped late summer / early autumn 2014 & allowed to naturally age for almost 1 year prior to consumption, which may contribute to their evolved flavor profiles compared to an earlier 'fresh' state.
Quality   18.9 / 20
The job of a critic, even a chocolate one, is by definition to criticize (what a low-life!).

Damn it, nothing doing here except cavil on about the chintzy French foil wrapper (seriously, from Valrhona to Cluizel &, how about an upgrade, please).

Other than that, this review idles past unemployment -- it's retired.

Thanks, Franck, for the pink slips.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin

Reviewed July 23, 2015


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