Normally when I first review chocolate from a particular maker I’d describe what makes them different, what their chocolate making philosophy is and basically try and get across what might not be obvious from just reading their website. The thing is that Stef from Food Interviews has done such an awesome job interviewing Alan McClure and showing what Patric Chocolate his factory is like that I can’t really add anything.
There are few things that do stand out for me, however: buying the best cacao is more important than buying Fair Trade. As my background is in economics I can see that Fair Trade, although has it wonderful intentions, can actually disincentivise plantation/farm owners from improving the quality of their cacao because they’ve been given a fixed price. In one example Alan McClure explained that the cacao he used was twice the price that a fair trade farmer would get because that cacao was of superior quality (scarcity and the perception of quality raises the price buyers are prepared to pay). My belief is that you wouldn’t get the sort of prices he pays for his Madagascan cacao for Ivorian cacao, purely because they focus primarily on quantity than fine cacao. I won’t mention the hideous costs of growers having to bare to get certified or being forced into co-operatives, but I believe Fair Trade is a good start, but there are far better solutions to raise the standards of living of cacao workers around the world – we just need more educated consumers to demand truly ethically produced chocolate.
The beans that were used to produce this bar come from the Sambirano Valley which is where Malagasy sourced it’s cacao when it was still in existence, where Amano get their Madagascan beans from, the same region as the Åkesson’s 75% Criollo originates and where some Domori, Mast Brothers and Michel Cluizel Mangaro bars “come from”. As you can tell, this bar is in very fine company.
With so many more cash-orientated chocolate makers choosing to discuss cacao varietals, Alan prefers not to sell his chocolate on a criollo, or any other label. I expect he prefers for the historic quality of his chocolate to do the selling. And having consumed virtually all of this bar I would say that’ s he’s perfectly right to do so. In the tour of his factory which Stef wrote about it’s absolutely great to see a chocolate maker wanting to do everything properly and not cutting corners, this includes the ageing of his chocolate before the final melted and reworked . Some companies are making huge amounts of money playing to the lowest common-denominator, so it’s great to see someone standing of for quality an employing a “no bullshit” approach and taking their time to do things properly.
I now have very little of this bar to write this review upon. Over the past three days I’ve had it by my desk whilst I work and it’s been steadily diminishing. But what I can say is the aroma is sensational. It has a delightful fig scent with slight acidic pine wood lurking in the background. In terms of the flavour, the tasting notes are spot on. I absolutely adored the ‘red wine’ element to it, which is supported by noticeable caramel notes, with some almond, and a very slightest hint of lime right at the tip of your tongue. The texture is exemplary too. The snap was clear and crisp, there was no air captured within and the melt was pure sex.
Far too often I compare chocolate to the Pralus Chuao for it was just out of this world with all of its broody, intoxicating and chameleon like lusciousness. But, this Madagascar 67% from Patric Chocolate is very much on a par, but for different reasons: its silkiness; its soft, delicate flavours and texture that put a shiver down my back.
If God made chocolate, he’d be responsible for this one.
And if you’d like to know what this bar reminds me of, it’s this song. I hope Alan doesn’t mind: