Now this, my friends, is right up my chocolate alley. High cacao percentage? Check. Classy packaging that tells the cashier and any nosy fellow shoppers that I’m a serious and respectable chocolate eater? Check. Marketing speak that says nothing about fruitiness or tanginess, which are my least favourite chocolate flavours? Check.
Let’s see how it goes in the tasting, shall we?
Valrhona Abinao 85%
Valrhona’s line of Grand Crus chocolate has cacao percentage and flavour profile options to suit everyone (except people who don’t like chocolate, or only like white chocolate, or like to beat puppies with frozen pork tenderloins). There are several milk chocolates, a few darks in the 60% range (including the rightly-popular Guanaja) and this Abinao bar, which has a lovely aroma of walnut, almond, and peanut butter (and chocolate. Because it is chocolate).
As you can see, Valrhona has implemented a unique asymmetrical design for its Grand Crus range. As you can’t see, but as I can relay to you, this chocolate has a wonderfully crisp snap, despite being one of the thinner bars I’ve had this year.
As well as the aforemention nut and nut butter notes, this Abinao chocolate also tastes strongly of oak and tobacco. Surprisingly, though, it is quite subtle for a chocolate that purports to have a “powerful lingering intensity”.
Rather than being bitter, I find this just supremely richly chocolatey. It tastes of wood, earth, and red currant, has a distinct lack of sweetness that never tends towards the acrid, and ebbs and flows between the richness of clotted cream and, once more, oak and earth.
This is one of the more subtle high percentage bars I’ve had, and therefore one I’ll likely reach for when I’m craving something rich and non-sweet but not necessarily super intense. For the latter, I’d probably head towards Theo’s 91%, which is yet to be reviewed…