Friday, October 1, 2010

Review: Michel Cluizel Vila Gracinda

Lindy's Rating: 5.5 (previously **)
Richard's Rating: 6.0 (previously **)

chocolate makerMichel Cluizel
barVila Gracinda
regionSão Tomé
plantationVila Gracinda
cacao trees(probably Forastero)
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids67%
fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane sugar
flavoringbourbon vanilla
other ingredients(none)
list priceN/A

colormedium-dark brown
texturesmooth with text imprints
aromaclove, licorice, red fruit, coffee
tastecoffee, roast, somewhat bitter
meltless smooth
finishflat, ashy
Michel Cluizel 1er Cru de Plantation Vila Gracinda is our first bar from Africa, with beans from the Vila Gracinda plantation on the island of São Tomé. I was unable to track down the type of cacao trees planted there, although it seems likely to be the Forastero that is prevalent in São Tomé. If they answer my email with this information, I will update the review accordingly.

When we opened the bar, it happened to be the first time we tasted when it was bright and sunny here in Seattle. Under artificial light, the color appeared darker than most other bars we'd tasted, definitely a medium-dark brown. However, under bright sunlight, the color appeared more of a medium brown. Because we evaluated the color of the other bars under artificial light, we rated the color medium-dark brown.

The potential color discrepancy points out one of our concerns when evaluating chocolate. How do we remain as objective as possible using our criteria? We will try to maintain similar conditions under which we review each chocolate (such as eating nothing during the four hours before tasting, although this is somewhat problematic when we taste more than one bar in a sitting). As we've been reviewing more bars, we have also been refining our criteria, about which I'll write more in a future posting.

With regards to the Gracinda bar, although Lindy and I both smelled clove as one of the strong aromas, we sensed different other fragrances: Lindy noticed red fruit while I noticed licorice and coffee.

Coffee was also the predominant flavor for me, along with roast. Lindy found the taste somewhat bitter, but I didn't experience any bitterness. The length was short, and the finish was flat and ashy, or "unremarkable" as Lindy described it.

UPDATE: As of 28 April 2013, you can purchase Vila Gracinda for 3,85 € directly from Michel Cluizel. The best price I found for purchase online in the U.S. was $5.99 from Caputo's.

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