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Had the opportunity once to try a Chocolate piece made from Porcelana Cacao, from the Andean Region in my country Venezuela. How I can describe that experience??? SUBLIME!!!!!! Any other Chocolate lovers able to express their experiences or opinions?

www.therepublicofchocolate.blogspot.com

Tags: Cacao, Chocolate, Of, Porcelana, Republic, The, Venezuela

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I'm not sure it's possible to call any cacao or any chocolate bar "the best in the world". Tastes vary too much and chocolate makers vary too much with what they make of the same beans. Besides, to truly be called "the best in the world" would mean that you had tasted every single chocolate in the world and that's a huge undertaking.

Actually, I'm not being critical and I know you were just using hyperbole to express how delightful the porcelana is, so your point still stands that it's great. I'm no expert, but I think that many would say that the Chuao beans are at the top level too. They're criollo beans from Chuao Venezuela, so your country can boast 2 of the best!

I'm a neophyte but in my limited experience here's how I've rated various chocolates (of the ~200 that I've tasted):
Amedei Chuao, 70% = 10. For me, this bar sets the gold standard.
Amedei I-Cru Venezuela, 70% = 9.9. Another Venezuelan!
Amedei Porcelana, 70% = 9.9 Sublime, but a slight notch below Chuao
Amedei I-Cru Madagascar, 70% = 9.8
....
( a few others on the list, notably the other Amedei I-Crus)
Domori Porcelana, 70% = 9.2 Excellent, but not to the level of Amedei
....
(way down the list...)
Bonnat Chuao, 75% = 7 Nowhere near as good as Amedei's.

Just my opinion and preferences. YMMV (Your mileage may vary)
Awesome post Theo Broma, I totally agree with you!!!
Agreeing with Theo, it's not really accurate to determine a "best" type of chocolate, especially because different chocolates are "best" at certain tasks and pairing with different flavors, so the term is purely circumstantial, even regarding individual taste preference.

Even so, enough people may rank a certain chocolate highly on a consistent basis to give the impression that it is the "best." Again, though, this might not be the case to everyone else. It's only the best to a small subset of the population.

One more thing before I forget, cacao from the Chuao region is not entirely criollo. It's a blend, including Forastero.
Myself and six other friends recently had an evening we called the Porcelana Bash. We compared seven different Porcelana bars (Bonnat's, Coppeneur (Mex. and Ven.), Amedei, Valhrona (Palmira 2005 and 2006), and Domori). The styles of the makers varied greatly and came through in each bar. Beyond makers we found a difference in the 2005 v. 2006 Palmira. RunnerNYC has posted a few pictures on her TCL page. In one of her pictures you can see the difference in color of the bars. That impressed me in that pure porcelana bars should be lighter in color with a reddish tint. Some of ours were pretty dark. The Coppeneur from Mexico matched the appearance description the best. None of the bars could be passed off as being similar to the others. The differences between bars were great but there were some similarities between some of them too. Across all of them, we didn't find any bitterness and little to no astringency. Except for the Valrhona, no strong fruity flavors. I think the Bonnat matched the flavor description of what I expect a porcelana to taste like. For me, it was Domori's ultra creamy texture that clings somewhat to the roof of the mouth that made it stand out. It had a honey and chocolatey flavor.
Brady-
You're a fortunate guy to have so many friends who appreciate chocolate like you do! That Porcelana Bash sounds like so much fun.
Thanks for the info. I didn't know that Valhrona Palmira is porcelana, so this is good to know. How did you learn this?
Along with Gwen, I'm also curious what makes Valhrona so red fruity. Personally I don't really care for it.
Valrhona's been keeping that under their hat for some time now until recently...it was revealed slowly, now trickling into the mainstream.

Other than a lack of bitterness and astringency, I think there really is no similarity among them all, in that there is no unifying thread to tie each bar together. Previously, I could say there was but since the inception of Palmira, the oddball that it is, as well as these Mexican bars, Porcelana as a whole is now just as varied a cacao as anything else.

I've been wondering lately what exactly is Porcelana anyway. I mean, here we have so many bars on the market of this rare, esteemed cacao that was previously available by two makers but now can be purchased by more than a generous handful. Plus, flavors are amazingly different, so naturally I am...well, not doubtful, but highly curious. Perhaps such variety relates to what Clay mentioned in another post, about fermentation contributing to flavor in HUGE ways. It'd be interesting to get feedback from someone who actually knows about Porcelana genetics and growing practices because from a consumer end, this is all very convoluted.
Hans makes an excellent point-- what qualifies beans to be labeled "porcelana"? It sounds like a certain kind of pod and beans. It's interesting it's also grown in Mexico. Also, is porcelana a Criollo (that's what the Palmira bar said) or a hybrid?
I was lucky enough to study with two CIRAD members, both the head (at the time) of the Tree Crops Program, during the University of Chocolate trips in 2003 and 2005. They are a great resource and they are on top of most of the breaking research. They don't necessarily have answers but they can say what the current consensus is.
I just checked the review of Bonnat Porcelana on seventypercent.com.

Wow! The two reviews posted on the same day by Hans-Peter and Alex Rast were so different! Did they even eat the same bar? Hans gave it 5.4 and Alex gave it 8.5.

Hans- a 5.4 would land it on your Bad chocolate list, or at least earn it a Dishonorable Mention.
Gwen- I don't know how to explain the fruitiness in the Valrhona Palmira. It seems to fit the Valrhona profile though, so likely it is intentional. I don't think there is any deceiving manipulation. Hans probably has the best answer in that variation in fermentation could be playing a role. I think part of Valrhona's style is a light roast and a deliberately shorter fermentation (Anyone can set me straight on this point if I am wrong). The shorter fermentation resulting in more acidic flavored chocolate. Could this acidity level be likely bringing out the fruity flavors we experience? Being slightly more specific, I found Palmira 2005 to be fruity, tangy, rich with vanilla notes coming through. The 2006 by the way, was not as rich or deliberate. It resembled a chocolate brownie at times. Also, reviewing my tasting notes, the Coppeneur Mexican Porcelana also had a tangy dark berry note to start, but overall the bars were very different.
Theobroma- I had tried to confirm by emailing Valrhona that the Palmira was indeed a Porcelana. I received an auto-reply awhile ago stating someone would get back to me but have never received confirmation from Valrhona. I did however read it on Han's site in a review of the Bonnat Porcelana. Coming from Hans, it was confirmation enough. As evidenced from his posts on the other three sites he posts to, Han's is full of information.
QUOTE:"As evidenced from his posts on the other three sites he posts to, Han's is full of information."

Agreed. I'd only modify that by saying that Hans has "reliable information. His "House Tour: The World’s Great Gourmet Chocolate Producers" on The Nibble is a masterpiece and a gold mine of useful information.

Brady- you've got lots of good info yourself. I've benefited from what you've written, especially your "Flavor Notes" chart.

Hans' tour gives the characteristics of the makers and Brady's "Flavor Notes" chart helps explain why they have those characteristics. Used together I found them both very valuable!

So thanks to you both for your good work!

Olorin

P.S.- I changed my user name from "Theo Broma"
Here's a link to Hans' excellent Cocoa Content with the Bonnat Porcelana article. His comment abt Palmira being porcelana is in the comments section.

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