Chocolate. Heart warming. Surprising flavor notes. Always good for wonderful new discoveries. Dark origin chocolate has captured my attention for years now and it is still as fresh and exciting as the day I discovered it.
I’m mad about a well made bar of pure chocolate. I’ve never been a fan of inclusions, where chocolate makers add all sorts of spices, fruits, nibs, flowers and other additions to the chocolate. For me the taste of the chocolate should speak for itself. With a couple of exceptions where a chocolate maker really understands the art of combining flavor notes to create a chocolate where the flavor notes work together to form a whole new experience, most seem to lack subtlety or have overpowering ingredients.
Yet there is a new form of added flavors emerging in the chocolate world. The bar on my table today doesn’t have any additions to the chocolate itself. Raaka has altered the chocolate production process in order to combine flavor notes. Their Cabernet Sauvignon and Bourbon cask matured bars both sparked my interest, as they are very different from your usual origin bar (with or without added flavors).
Unfortunately the Bourbon Cask bar has sold out at my local supplier, yet the Cabernet Sauvignon bar lays on my table now.
The American creative chocolate maker Raaka tries to create an ode to fermentation with this bar. Both wine and chocolate wouldn’t be around without the natural proces of fermentation. Both products reveal the terroir where they are grown in their flavor profile and both require the hand of a skilled master to be turned into an exceptional end product.
Chocolate and wine as a combination can work – as I’ve demonstrated during a tasting session a while ago, yet it is a tricky combination, asking for extended sampling and trial and errors.
Rather than adding actual wine to the end product, Raaka uses Cabernet Sauvignon wine during the chocolate making proces. They steam the cocoa beans over simmering wine to capture the essence of both in one product. In theory, this should create a harmonious flavor profile in the final chocolate bar.
Let’s see if they succeed.
A Raaka chocolate bar is easily recognisable in a blink of an eye, The distinct packaging features an abstract pattern on the paper outer wrapper, combined with a nice label stating the type of chocolate, origin, percentage, etc. It is a beautiful design with a hint of luxury. Yep the type of wrapper doesn’t allow to reclose easily after enjoying some pieces.
The bar inside is very different from what we are used to aswell. There is no scoring. None. It is a rectangular piece of chocolate. A tablet, without any preformed pieces. You as a chocolate enthousiast, decide on how the bar will be broken.
Bean: Not mentioned
Origin: Peru – CAC Pangoa
Maker: Raaka, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Price: € 6,95 (50 g) – Hilde Devolder Chocolatier Ghent
Batch: 1 / best before Nov. 2017
Color: Dark brown with a hint of purple
Aroma: chocolaty, slightly earthy, a faint wood/wine note
Taste: Starts of with a roasted note and quiet earthy, followed by lush dark fruits (plum and cherry). The sweetness of the bar is countered by the full flavors of the chocolate. The flavor keeps the fruit flavors running, while a very slight woody tannin emerges in the back. This chocolate immediately brings the color purple/red to mind for some reason. The melt is perfect, the fluid chocolate is very light on the palate, almost like wine, with a hint of fruity acidity. The slight tannins give depth to the overall flavor and enhance the experience. The aftertaste keeps the fruits alive and offers more smokey wood. There is a distinct wine flavor in this bar, but I my view might be a bit colored due to the fact that I adore deep fruity wines who show a very similar flavor profile with chocolate, vanilla and oak wood in their flavor.
At 68%, the bar is should be sweet, but isn’t due a nicely balanced flavor profile. It is like sipping a great glass of red wine on a lazy, relaxed evening next to a cracking fireplace. Very enjoyable.
But what I really wonder is what makes me think of wine while I enjoy this bar. Is it really there in the flavor or do I search for it, knowing this bar was made with Cabernet Sauvignon in the production process? I guess only a blind tasting could reveal this.
I absolutely adore this bar though! And as Rakaa stated – you don’t even need a glass.