Tobago Estate Chocolate / 50g

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Tobago Estate Chocolate / 50g
Probably the finest choccy we've ever tasted, from Swedish-based Tobagan cocoa farmer and rum devotee Duane Dove. Unsurpringly, this stuff is fabulous with a really top-end dark golden rum.
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Appearance   4.2 / 5

Color:  light brown / orange-tint 
Surface:  flaked, dusted & brushed 
Temper:  dull (by Pralus standards), shining by any others 
Snap:  very literal... sharp & clear... confident too 

Aroma   9.1 / 10

Pudding indeed & nothing off-putting about it: sticky thick blues (poms, plums, purple grapes, berries [june & huckle], & chicory) cut across cocoa + gum arabic -> airs out tobacco

Mouthfeel   10.8 / 15

Texture:  hard-edged 
Melt:  stiff; mechanized 

Flavor   45.2 / 50

Wild Acacia honey + chocolate commingle with those Aroma blues -> swells to blackberry (very fine indeed) -> hugs in close to a brown sugar -> unexciting finish on coffee & bamboo beneath that earlier fruit tart which carries over -> sapodilla the aft-length with prune concentrate

Quality   17.3 / 20

Duane Dove works with Dr. Darin Sukha at CRU (Cocoa Research Unit) in Trinidad for genetic breeding apps. Together they’ve crossed 7 varieties which, given Trinidad’s cacáo heritage, can rightfully bear the name Trinitario. Among them are TSH 919 (Trinidad Select Hybrid) & the ICS series with its Criollo-germplasm generating fruit & floral notes. Cacáo seeds, surrounded by a mostly sweet-pulp, are treated to a 4–7 day ferment in wooden sweat boxes; then traditionally sun-dried.

From there the beans are shipped to the moody François Pralus in Roanne, France where Duane says he has come to “accept the Pralus-style” – deep roast / long conche (the latter 72 hours).

In a bit of a departure for Pralus, who customarily packs his bars at 75% cacáo-content, this lightens the load to 70%.

A dense & unassuming chocolate nonetheless that belies its middling scale & modest sexiness; the whole experience feeling a bit mechanical (especially in the Texture). The positives outweigh all that however: very pal-friendly (pal for palate)... virtually no bitterness nor astringent grip -- a sign of masterful post-harvest techniques & processing – presenting clean & well-defined flavor, in particular some upfront fruit.

So despite a taste that suggests possible lineage to Bolivia (honey), Ecuador (blackberry), Bali (bamboo) & just about everywhere (coffee), in the end a rather simple bar of sturdy core cocoa tags overlain by a sweet fruit spot that transports all Tobago.

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