The people at Idilio Origins are incredibly passionate about their chocolate; but, passion without talent and vision can fall flat on its face. Luckily, all three qualities are evident in every morsel from this new company that is taking the world chocolate market by storm.
The company’s name, Idilio, comes from the Spanish word meaning a short poem celebrating the romance of living at one with nature, a sweet experience, or small treasure. Each of these bars, with its simple, elegant, white packaging, fits that description perfectly.
If you are a regular reader of this site, you know that when it comes to dark chocolate, the bean’s provenance is paramount. As with wine, the variety, location, microclimate and soil composition are decisive factors for an excellent single-origin cacao. Swiss manufacturers are renowned for their long conching process, which gives the finished bar a super silky texture and highlights the essence of each particular variety.
Joint Managing Directors Pascal Wirth and Niklaus Blumer have specialized in pure designated-origin chocolate and use nothing but cacao and cane sugar for their ten bar range, each weighing in at 80 grams. As you chocophiles know, this allows the true essence of the bean’s characteristics to shine. They determine the roasting, cacao proportion and conching method with Sepp Schönbächler, Managing Director and Head of Development at Felchlin. Felchlin is one of the most highly regarded chocolate companies on earth. (I will be reviewing their wares in a few months.)
The 2011 Academy of Chocolate Gold Medal winner is their Number 2 bar, 72% Selección Amiari Merideña. Sur de Lago beans from Venezuela, an area south of Lake Maracaibo, make up this excellent bar. The texture is creamy, the flavor gentle and fruity, and the finish lingers. Number 6 is the same chocolate with the addition of roasted cocoa nibs, which adds a wonderful texture and extra caramelized flavor. I enjoyed both bars immensely, though I liked the number 6 a bit better for its lovely subtle crunch, as the nibs are finely ground.
I have been smitten with the Criollo bean from my first taste years ago. Its rich, round, developed flavor is evident in Idilio’s Porcelana Criollo Puro, 74%, which won the bronze medal from the Academy of Chocolate this year, and deservedly so. This excellent example of Criollo’s superbly balanced flavor profile is attributed to beans hailing from the Zulia area at the foot of the Andes. Idilio takes the entire year’s harvest from this last remaining traditional small-scale growing area. The mix of earth, fruit, and nutty flavors is so harmonious that each blends seamlessly with the next. A long, satisfying finish adds to its appeal.
Tempered to a beautiful, glossy shine are bars number 3 and 7, Selección Cata Ocumare, 72%. Number 7 is enhanced with the aforementioned caramelized nibs. Intense coffee and spice flavors abound in this delicious chocolate made with beans from the village of Ocumare de la Costa located on the Atlantic coast of Venezuela, not far from the well-known village of Chuao. The finish is a little dryer and lightly astringent, which marries beautifully with the bar’s creamy texture. This cooperative farm in the rain forest is cut off from an arid hinterland by a protective mountain chain. It is known for the tremendous diversity of its flora and fauna. The Hacienda Cata in Ocumare de la Costa produces organic cocoa in mixed cultivation with other tropical fruits.
Idilio No 4, Carenero Urrutia Superior, 70%, and its fraternal twin, number 8, with caramelized nibs, comes from the Hacienda Urrutia in Barlovento to the east of Caracas. An exceptionally fruity Trinitario bean whose sweetness makes it easy to scarf down, the hint of earthiness in its finish allows you to savor, rather than inhale, this addictive bar.
Idilio 72% bars number 5 and 9 are made with beans from the Cooperativa Amazonas in the Orinoco area of the Venezuelan Amazon, an area is regarded as the birthplace of the Criollo varieties. The forerunner plant appears to have spread from there along the Venezuelan coast into the Andes and on to the Mesoamerican civilisations. In the Orinoco source region, a wild-growing, highly aromatic cocoa is collected, expertly fermented and sun-dried by an indigenous cooperative. There is a bit of folklore about this bean being a particular favorite among women. I guess women prefer more complex, deeper, darker flavors than men, since these beans seem more complex to my palate than any of the previous ones. After finding the other nib-enhanced bars generally sweeter than their plain counterparts, I was surprised that in this rendition, the nibs seemed to accentuate edgier coffee notes. Both bars are redolent of dried fruit and Amazonian soil. The fragrance is fresh and dewy.
The last bar, Number 12, Finca Torres, 72%, was discovered by Idilio about three years ago. Both Wirth and Blumer were struck by the remarkable potential of this single-origin cocoa growing on the slopes of the national park on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. The owner, Vicente Fuentes, is passionately interested in producing a top-class bean. Idilio, in conjunction with Vicente and the local organic food organization Tierra Viva, has perfected the care of the cocoa, its fermentation and sun-drying. The texture is very gentrified, while the predominant flavors are earthy, which makes for a fascinating juxtaposition of elegance and sauciness. This unlikely combination of wildness and refinement makes Number 12 supremely seductive. One minute it hypnotizes you with its earthiness and the next you’re luxuriating in its sophistication. (Not surprisingly, it won the Silver medal in 2011 from the Academy of Chocolate in London. Here’s a link to their site, http://www.academyofchocolate.org.uk/academy/Awards/2011.html,
if you would like to see more results from their judges.)
Pascal Wirth and Niklaus Blumer have created an extraordinary line of compelling chocolates. Check out their website for other delicious offerings including a 200 gram bag of tiny chocolate discs, Idilio Number 4, that can be swirled into hot milk for a cup of chocolate bliss.