Review: Tibor Szántó – Venezuela Porcelana 70% (****)

The Creator

Tibor Szántó is a Hungarian chocolate maker who started from a fine wine background. As a professional wine educator, Tibor visited Italy and discovered the art of chocolate making. When returning home, he was surprised no such chocolatiers existed in his home land. It soon became clear that chocolate making turned from interest in main activity and he created his company in 2006, starting his production a year later – after intensive study in France, Italy and Belgium.

Tibor is very serious about chocolate and this shows in his cocoa bean selection. Nothing but fine of flavor cocoa is used in his bars. The cocoa roasting process is the next all important step in chocolate making. Tibor offers some of his bars in different roast levels, so the public may understand the effect of this step on the final taste. He grinds the beans in a traditional granite mill. This stone grinding delivers a specific mouth feel, coarser than traditional conching, but it also keeps the flavor spectrum as broad as possible and creates lots of different tasting notes in the final product. No lecithin is added, the chocolate is made purely out of cocoa mass, raw cane sugar and cocoa butter. Flavor above anything.

I had the opportunity to follow a tasting session by Tibor some years ago in Amsterdam and I must admit I was overwhelmed by the notes his bars have to offer. They show the dedication of the man behind the bar to get the best result possible.


The bar:

The package is very recognizable. For some reason, it has an Eastern-European feel to it. The label on the bottom is the most important part. The cocoa variety, origin and cocoa percentage is noted. Many chocolate lovers start to dream when they find Venezuela and Porcelana on a bar. The white beaned cocoa variety is part of the Criollo family, recognized as the best of the best when it comes to flavor. Venezuela still offers some of the highest quality cocoa around the globe and should yield stunning results in the hands of a chocolate master. 70% cocoa will hit the sweet spot for most connoisseurs.

Inside the main wrapper, a second sleeve is found. This time pure white cardboard. Flip it open and you will find two bars protected by cellophane. I love this idea. It keeps the second bar fresh as you nibble on the first. No messy rewrapping or flavor loss during storage. The bar molds used are not custom made. You’ll find this design used by many chocolate makers. It is appealing enough though, with fine cocoa pods and leaves imprints. In total you have 60 grams of chocolate in a package.

Bean: Criollo Porcelana

Origin: Venezuela

Batch: 100/046 – exp. 20/03/2017

Maker: Szántó Kereskedelmi – Hungary

Price: € 7 – bought at the Origin Chocolate Event 2015 Amsterdam


The tasting:

Color: lighter brown, slightly red

Aroma: chocolate, green cocoa, hay, earthy

Taste: The flavor starts off with light roasted coffee, moving over to earthy cocoa, with a hint of pepper and clove in the back. Wood tannins add some maturity to the flavor and bring forth a very nice chocolaty note. Roasted almonds pop up and some molasses mingle in to add warmth to the flavor All the way at the end of the melt, I even experienced a flash of red currant. The texture is slightly coarse and the chocolate resists the melt more than other bars, due to the stone grinding process used in the production of the bar. Some might find this less appealing, but I don’t find it to be distracting at all. After the melt, a nice and long aftertaste keeps lingering on in the mouth and keeps the overall warm, nutty flavor alive.

The longer you wait, the more impressive the flavor is. It is one of those chocolate bar who ask you to take the time to discover their beauty. Every piece you savor unlocks new notes. It simply makes you come back for more. The bar is definitely on the earthy side of the scale, yet allows a nice sweetness, spices and even faint fruit notes to come through. The aroma is both complex and satisfying and will seduce anyone with a taste for real chocolate.

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