Despite the cacao being used in this Michel Cluizel Los Ancones coming from a very well organised aggricultural business in the Dominican Republic called Nazario Rizek, it does taste very good indeed. The plantation is located close to the protected slopes of the La Sal Mountains and where the administrative tasks are carried out in San Francisco de Macorís.
What is also interesting is that on the same estate, Nazario Rizek also grows oranges (both bitter and sweet), grapefruit and avocado. And this grapefruit, bitter orange characteristic is very noticeable in the aroma but balanced with very strange, but distinctive bitter olive. There is, however, much less pinewood acidity in this bar than say the Patrick Roger 75%, instead its offers a more sweet, tobacco complexion.
As I’ve said, the flavour is utterly delightful, but very relaxed. It’s not harsh or truly bitter like much dark chocolate can be, but is much more down the Chapon Cuba line of mild and seductive, soft and silky. The flavours come across as peaches and cream. Despite the velvety texture and the enveloping flavour, there’s no real decadence here. It’s soothing, reassuring but not bursting with flavour. This, I’m afraid, and for my palate, is to its detriment.
This bar, although very good, doesn’t offer me a complete chocolate experience. I just feel it’s missing a few layers of flavour. There’s no story here – each of the flavours just arrive at the same time. The Pralus Chuao, for example, takes you on a journey, flavours come and go, whilst this bar is fairly singular in its flavour offering – those flavours that are offered are too similar. This is more to do with the fact Trinitario (CC10) cacao is used and not Criollo. On a trinitario-only comparison it’s one of the most pleasant I’ve reviewed.
Of course I’m not going to turn this bar if offered. And compared to 90% of what I review it’d win hands down. But when we’re talking about the best of the best, it doesn’t quite hit the mark – in my opinion anyway. Many of the criollo bars are superior – but you knew that already!