/ Doug's Chocolate Republic /
Review: Valrhona Abinao
Posted: 7 May 2013
A bad version of an 85% is a bar that just tastes bitter. Abinao's bitterness isn't pronounced. I could actually taste a fruity backnote,
like a plum or grape. That would be the tannic effect. I
hate bringing in these fruit analogies when describing
chocolate because they sound so pretentious, but I swear to
you in this case, that some kind of fruity taste did linger
on the tongue as I cracked off morsel after morsel of this
delicious all-too-small bar. Really, I'm not
trying to act like the pompous applicant to a restricted country club.
price/gram: USD 0.102
Cocoa %: 85
My wife's hotel has recently
been offering a promotion of Valrhona. She surprised
me by coming home with a collection of five different bars,
several of which I've reviewed on the Chocolate Republic
site before. This is my wonderful wife working to
keep our marriage fresh (the chocolates were manufactured
quite recently) and sweet (but not too sweet with the sugar
content in high cacao solid bars relatively low).
Finding a Valrhona bar is a
big deal in Thailand. There must be no established
importer because I've never seen Valrhona for sale at any
of the usual import shops and gourmet markets.
never come cheap in Thailand. As
expensive as these bars are in competitive nations, they
cost an additional 30% over here. Only kings -- the
King of Thailand and his family -- are likely to be
able to get Valrhonas on a regular basis over here.
The Abinao bar is the darkest
Valrhona bar she could find at 85%. In fact, I believe
it's the highest cacao content bar Valrhona currently makes.
A few years ago, 85% would've scared me off, perhaps ended a
marriage, but over time, I've recognized the true
superiority or inferiority of a manufacturer can be
documented by how well it can pull off the balance in this high cocoa solid category. On the back of the wrapper,
the flowery description states that Abinao "offers a subtle
balance of several sensory dimensions, dominated by an
intense bitterness and backed up by powerful tannins."
Intimidated yet? Relationships have ended over fewer
Abinao is in the Grand Cru
range, chocolates manufactured by blending cocoa beans from
particular plantations which Valrhona basically owns or
In some countries, Valrhona has cut deals with most of the
key plantations such that you'd be hard put to taste any
chocolate from that region which wasn't manufactured by
Valrhona. The Abinao is sourced from the beans of
but Valrhona won't say from which countries, which makes me
think they're blending a variety from several plantations that change from year to year.
A bad version of an 85% is a
bar that just tastes bitter. If you want to
simulate something close to that experience, stick a
tablespoon of cocao powder in your mouth with just a dab of
sugar. Constant bitterness never got anyone anywhere.
We as humans need to learn to forgive with a little
sweetness. Think of all the wars we'd avoid!
Thankfully, Abinao's bitterness isn't pronounced. I
could actually taste a fruity backnote, like a plum or
grape, about as fruity as some of the analogies I'm making
on this review. This fruitiness would be the tannic effect. I hate
bringing in these fruit analogies when describing chocolate
because they sound so pretentious, but I swear to you in
this case, that some kind of fruity taste did linger on the
tongue as I cracked off morsel after morsel of this
delicious all-too-small bar. Really, I'm not trying to
act like the pompous applicant to a restricted country club.
Valrhona bars are always
special gifts, and this Abinao bar from my wife was no
exception. Even if I cold pick these bars up at the local 7
11 or Big C, I wouldn't be doing so often. For one,
I could go out and have a nice dinner with a beer over here
cheaper than the price my wife paid for the bar. But beyond that, they're a
special sensation in the mouth with their texture, flavor,
and smell. You don't pop up a Valrhona bar in your
mouth as you're chatting to your buddy about last night's
episode of Homeland or American Idol. A bar as good as this
demands your full attention as you eat it. Don't even
think of going to the opera as you consume a Valrhona.
That's an order.