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Home / Doug's Chocolate Republic  /   Review:  Valrhona Abinao

     
Valrhona Abinao 
Posted: 7 May 2013    8.5 
Valrhona Abinao from France 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.  
Avg price/gram: USD 0.102   Cocoa %: 85 Size: 70g   
       


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.  Luxuries 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 words.      

Abinao is in the Grand Cru range, chocolates manufactured by blending cocoa beans from particular plantations which Valrhona basically owns or controls.  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 Africa, 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.        
     

If you liked reading this, consider savoring these reviews:
 Jacquot Dark Chocolate from France -- 74% cocoa solids
 Green & Black Maya Gold from UK -- 55% cocoa solids
 The Complete Chocolate Republic Index


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Computer Comprehensive Companion

  Abinao is a dark Valrhona bar. It's dark chocolate from France using beans from Africa. Its bitterness is not pronounced. Want to try?