Richard's Rating: 6.0
Carenero, Venezuela had 81% cocoa solids (including added cocoa butter made from the same cacao beans) and 19% sugar, with no added emulsifier or flavoring. The substantial 80 gram bar was scored into 24 pieces, wrapped in heavy gold-sided foil, and enclosed in a paper sleeve. There was no production date or best before date, and the Batch # space on the sleeve was blank.
The chocolate had a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color. The surface was smooth, but there were small bubbles in several of the top corners of the pieces and a couple of minor surface imperfections. Overall, the bar had a good temper. The snap was medium hard.
The aroma of Carenero, Venezuela was primarily a combination of a tobacco roast and an earthiness that was mostly soil with some must, with the earth stronger than the roast. In addition, I smelled sweetness and scents of dairy, fruit and a hint of nut.
The taste had similar attributes, but with the strengths reversed: more tobacco roast than earthiness. Underneath those dominant flavors was a mixed fruit flavor that included cherry. I also found some dairy, nuttiness and a hint of anise.
After a slow start, the chocolate had a more smooth melt. The length was medium, with the flavor lasting 20 to 25 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The final aftertaste was a slightly sour earthiness.
My initial impression of this chocolate when I tried it at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in October was excellent. However, reviewing it more formally over the past two days, I found that while it had some great qualities, the taste and finish did not appeal as much as I remembered, so I rated it overall as 6.0.
You can purchase Carenero, Venezuela for $5.99 online directly from Escazú, or, to combine the purchase with other brands, from Chocolopolis.