Valrhona 64%: Palmira, Gran Couva, & Ampamakia

Memory is a funny thing, especially when it comes to remembered tastes.  Have you ever craved something you ate as a child, or on a trip, only to have it again and wonder what you were thinking?  Well, I am happy to report that’s not the case here with this trio of bars from Valrhona, though my opinion is different now, after having tasted so many incredible chocolates since my first Palmira bar. A fond memory, as I was completely blown away by its temper, texture, flavor, and refinement.

Tucking into the 2009 Palmira, which seems different from the 2005, there’s still the luscious, smooth texture (Valrhona really knows how to temper chocolate) and the satisfying balance of flavors: honey, just a hint of soil, and roasted beans. Then, I’m aware of a gentle cocoa fragrance, which rounds out the whole experience.  Those Venezuelan Criollo beans are the bee’s knees.  They may not challenge your taste buds the way Askinosie chocolate can, but if you’re craving something elegant this will hit the spot.

The 2009 Apamakia, made from beans near the Sambirano river in Madagascar, offers the same great tempering, a slightly creamier texture, and subtle vanilla notes. It’s milder and less complex than the Palmira.

The 2009 Gran Couva, with beans sourced from Trinidad, is my least favorite, though it’s still a delicious bar. The slightly dry finish distinguishes it from the other two.

Years ago, when I tasted my first Palmira bar, there were far fewer chocolatiers around and a much smaller selection of bars from which to choose.  Have I become jaded? Probably. It’s chocolate’s little evolution, and I’m happy to watch people’s tastes become more discerning.  Do I still love Palmira now that I’ve tried the Tainori and Alpaco? A little less.  They are probably my two Valrhona favorites…but, there’s still something unique and special about those Criollo beans.

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