Alex must know me well, for I have an absolute love affair with chocolate made from Colombian beans. For me, you still get the red fruitiness of Madagascar but you get more floral and spicy flavours with it. What’s more Madagascar has become a bit of a ‘Magnolia’ origin now because the plantation owners have done such a fantastic job producing great cocoa and marketing it supremely well. Colombia has, unfortunately, been left behind. But hopefully, Hotel Chocolat can start to push their beans to new heights and new markets.
The region of Aracataca isn’t more than a few stones throws from the great Trinitario-focused region of Guasare in Venezuela which produces some great cacao, the cacao fro this chocolate, we are told, is related to that from Cienaga, which is located close to Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. And while Colombia as a whole has a real mishmash of cacao genetics with small amounts of Criollo, bits of Amelonado and more Esmeraldas on the borders of Ecuador we can assume from our understanding of the natural history of cacao that there is some fine flavour cacao in this chocolate.
Although there isn’t necessarily anything in the taste of the chocolate that would indicate that there are any strong connections with the most desirable of Venezuelan genetics, what there does lead to a very enjoyable experience. Far less refined and ‘pure’ in flaovur as a many chocolates from the neighbouring country, this bar does have some very pleasant characteristics – not least the focus on red fruits, florals and spices, which may even point me towards more of an Ecuadorian profile – not least because of the brutish nature of flaovur notes. The packaging makes reference to grapefruit and that’s certainly very much in evidence, but I get a lot of strawberry tucked in beneath then a sharp blackberry edge that flashes in at stages of the melt. But there are still very noticeable trends of caramel and cherry throughout subsequent bites which reminds me very much of the fantastic Domori Peurtomar.
But with all these refined notes reminiscent of an angel on one shoulder comes the fallen angel on the other: the leathery and acidic notes that very much separated from the refined profile. For me, this is a hangover from the initial bites that don’t want to mute. They keep nagging and battling with the elegant notes and make this a chocolate that battles intensely between wanting to be a very delicate Venezuelan and a more aggressive Ecuador. For me, at least, the more refined angel wins with aplomb.
You can also try this chocolate in 35g form for £3.75 which should allow you to mix and match with their other origin/estate chocolates and get a taste of what the world has to offer.