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VIÊT NAM
Hảo Mộc
Thiên Tùy
Bến Tre
Đồng Nai
Lâm Đồng
Tiền Giang
Good Morning

by Belvie
Info Details
Country Vietnam   
Type Dark   
Strain Hybrid   (T Clonal Series)
Source Vietnam   
Flavor Fruits & Flowers   
Style New School      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
Structure
Length
Impact
With Ken Burns & Lynn Novice The Vietnam War film documentary on public television, the world sees American fighter aircraft dropping agent orange & napalm on the Vietnamese countryside all over again, denuding foliage for miles around & incinerating flesh. In protest (& perhaps anticipation of no-escape), monks for good measure self-immolate.

Somehow -- like through strategy & determination -- this ancient SE Asian nation survived. Nature then revived. Talk about resilience on a magnitude of anti-fragile.

The Yanks, & the French before them, lost the war. Leaving behind some cocoa seeds, which now sprout a small retro-revolution in chocolate by Uncle Ho's great-grand children, might stand as a moral victory for the vanquished. Peace thru chocolate?

Unlike a monk, chololatarians achieve “nibbana” (a portemanteau of Nibs + Nirvana), the cocoa Buddha's highest bliss, not thru eliminating desire but by diving into it. Instead of dis-illusion & detachment, they seek happiness in sensory immersion.

These bars accelerate & heighten the attainment.
Appearance   3.9 / 5
Color: Hảo Mộc: polychrome
Thiên Tùy: call it 'crème de blush'
Bến Tre: Delta brown
Đồng Nai: crimsoned
Lâm Đồng: crushed orange-scape to rival Madacascan cacáo
Tiền Giang: another blusher, call this one 'crème rouge'
Good Morning Vietnam: backs off the red some, into browner depths
Surface: striated by brushstrokes
Temper: nicked
Snap: "sharp-light" (i.e., delicate yet clear)
Aroma   8.1 / 10
Hảo Mộc
a gummy bear in the marshes

Thiên Tùy
lite-distilled white vinegar-lacquered wood, soft at that (bamboo, laurel) -> eventually lays the lumber on

Bến Tre
Mekong strong

Đồng Nai
brings on chocolate... a veritable rotisserie of cocoa & Earthen elements (circulating around leather hides) with a soupçon of fruit

Lâm Đồng
alluvial plains

Tiền Giang
mite-sourdough cocoa & black treacle

Good Morning Vietnam
jackfruited nut-milk tones
Mouthfeel   12.4 / 15
Texture: even-flow
Melt: semi-fast (largely on account of thin pour to the mould)
Flavor   44.9 / 50
Hảo Mộc
80% cacáo-content; Mekong Delta
the Aroma pre-sells it: fruit at impact -> undergirding cocoa soil -> acidity soars above the marsh only to fall back down, shooting star-like, into it -> dark matter at the tail

Highly approachable for the 80% class. A bit obscure but still... such a fruit-laden packet that perceptually sweetens the palette in excess of its mere 20% sugar.

Thiên Tùy
75% cacáo-content; Lâm Đồng Province (Central Highland)
caramelized sap in between the woodcuts... stays on point... flirts toward resinous marmalade -> stray nut shell flits off nut skins -> rear char Ovaltine®

Intrigue opening devolves into nondescript chocolate with some issues to be resolved (the roasting curve, for instance, which belabors this bar in the last stanza). As if this cacáo / cocoa doesn't know what it wants to be: a fruit bomb, a woodshed, or a nut house.

Bến Tre
70% cacáo-content; Bến Tre Province (Mekong Delta)
reserved cocoa rooted in clean topsoil -> expresses a thin but concentrated veneer of citrus sunberry jelly... flows toward sweet guava -> resolves back to tannic fudge

Gorgeously balanced / harmonized with itself. Bến Tre the forerunner of Viet chocolate in the West when first introduced by Scharffen Berger in 2009. Since then many iterations have hit the int'l market. This among the finer of them on account of seamless integration to the flavor tags.

Đồng Nai
70% cacáo-content
stone fruit, pit included, stem too, over hazy cocoa -> soft loam -> strengthens to medicinal syrup over cherrywood -> green vanilla -> galangal

Fairly 2 dimensional -- one with rare depth for such a complex though.

Lâm Đồng
70% cacáo-content; Central Highlands
color transfer (see above) for orange blossom sunrise, studied spiced cocoa below -> evolves to lite citrus spray tethered by those alluvial deposits in the Aroma + tea -> latex back -> orange pekoe

A beautiful, subtle reserve. Apart from the 5% differential in cocoa-content, this lies quite separate from the Thiên Tùy bar (above; both from Lâm Đồng Province). Another demonstration of the multiple facets that go into chocolate which shift its flavor outcomes.

Tiền Giang
70% cacáo-content; Mekong Delta
yet one more bar interlined with dried fruit... the start here marinated morello cherry cordial, turns sapodilla to apricotish, then twists pomelo -> clears chocolate-almondine

Rare for Tiền Giang Province cacáo -- a bar of natural intrinsic pitch & impressions of a significantly different profile compared to those of a certain ilk that taste & feel manipulated.

Good Morning Vietnam
rasin all over it, backed by molasses, sap, & licorice -> aft-lingers on bottom-of-the-pot coffee

An outlier. Heavy on the palette. Plus a double-surprise for Vietnam: a) unusual & ordinary notes & b) Belvie lists this as a "Coffee Bar" (coffee among the ingredients on the wrapper) yet scant flavor of it until the very end.
Quality   16.7 / 20
Whereas Marou, the premiere craft chocolate play out of Vietnam, stylizes the origin bordering a stereotype – heavy silkscreen wrapper & thick bars in both weight & flavor – here Belvie takes a delicate, dare say 'nativist', tack through & through, attuned to the culture & traditions of the country. It shows in the lightness of bearing on the bar’s packaging design, the thin pour which lessens the textural load, & flavor profiles that recline as they align.

A localized interpretation straight from the source with a decided theme / thread coursing throughout the portfolio: dried fruit concentrate impressions on a soft tip.
Each fermented in the respective region, taking advantage of surrounding flora & biota in wood boxes, then onto the manufactory for a drum roasting + a stone-mill melangeur refining.

Some of the more unique offerings yet from Vietnam albeit, admittedly, an origin lagging well behind market leaders like Madagascar & Peru in the craft chocolate scene.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Reviewed September 26, 2017
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