/ Doug's Chocolate Republic /
Review: Valrhona Manjari
Posted: 23 June 2011
I expected it to have hints of orange with the word tangy showing up on the cover. Orange wouldn't be the flavor I believe I tasted but there was a distinct tang. From the first bite, I thought I could taste bits of ground cocoa in a sort of chalky choco-earthy texture. Jesus! I am already writing like a conceited wine critic.
price/gram: USD 0.086
Cocoa %: 64
After digesting the very
impressive (in small doses) Valrhona
Guanaja, I took this
slightly lesser dark Manjari out of the refrigerator to put
expensive Valrhona to the test for a second time.
The Manjari is described on
the cover as "fresh and tangy." It's almost at the
same level of darkness as the Guanaja,yet only composed of
the Trinitario cacao bean.
No rare Criollo in this one. Some other lax choco-reviewers
on their own web sites erroneously say the Manjari consists
of both Criollo and Trinitario. Perhaps the Manjari
once included Criollo; if it still does, I doubt
Valrhona would be shy about making that fact public.
The description on the bar's back wrapper reads "The rich
soils of the Sambirano River Valley encourage the release of
acidic notes of red berries and dried fruit. These
aromas are unique to the Trinatario, a tree not commonly
found on the northern side of Madagascar." Valrhona
has a field day with the Madagascar angle.
Under ingredients, the first item is listed as "cocoa beans
The Guanaja and Manjari
are part of Valrhona's Grand Cru range. Grand
Cru's shtick is that each bar in the range is sourced from
beans from a particular country or region. The
Guanaja used South American beans. I could find no
hard evidence for specific countries, so Valrhona must blend
their cacao from several. The Manjari's beans, on the
other hand, all comes from the Malagasy isle.
I expected it to have hints
of orange with the word tangy showing up on the cover.
Orange wouldn't be the flavor I believe I tasted but there
was a distinct tang. From the first bite, I thought I
could taste bits of ground cocoa in a sort of chalky choco-earthy
texture. Jesus! I am already writing like a
conceited wine critic. French food stuffs just have a
magic pretentious power over you.
For just 6% less cocoa solid
content than the Guanaja, it tasted 15-20% less bitter and
was a lot easier to stomach in larger doses. The small
20 gram Guanaja bar took me a few days to finish.
I had no addiction to scarf it down. The Manjari
possessed a flavor that was more accessible, more familiar,
but with an elegant touch.
All the finer brands of
chocolates are using Trinatario beans. Nothing new on
that front. Valrhona just appears to know how to
source them, conch them, and roast them better than most of
their competition. Being from France, with weird and
exotic names, almost gives the company carte blanche to
charge you whatever they please for them.