Named for its birthplace in the Rhône Valley of France, Valrhona has been making fine chocolate since 1922. Dedicated to consistent, artisan-quality products, they are one of the top brands for coverture for the professional market. The company also owns plantations in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, and runs a renowned pastry school. A large, secretive company like Valrhona is an anomoly among the small craft producers that populate this site, but it is important to understand how significant this company has been in the fine chocolate revolution - and they make excellent bars!
Madagascar Manjari 64%
Aroma: fresh, like cocoa mulch in a garden on a spring day, caramel
Flavor: jammy, hints of floral. Spices, raspberry, citrus peel, nutmeg, pepper. Very tangy. Bursting fruit flavor – raspberry, orange zest – that lingers for a long time with a tangy finish. Some caramel and nutty undertones. Very little bitterness.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. This classic bar is flavorful and intensely tangy
Batch info: Lot no. LP7518137, Best before September 2019
Le Noir Amer 71%
Aroma: Darker earthy aromas, dark toast, citrus, hint of hamminess
Flavor: A full, smooth chocolate flavor – cocoa and brownie – is right upfront along with some with rich toasted nuts, caramel and butterscotch. Later on there are some tangy fruit notes, then delicate fruit and floral undertones, lemon and rose. Low acidity, lingering bitterness.
Recommendation: Recommended – this is a nice dark chocolate bar. The package says Trinitario and Criollo with fruity and floral taste but to me it tastes like some of the more subtle flavors were lost in the darkness of the roast. It is balanced but there is not a lot of complexity.
Batch info: Lot no. L18148, Best before October 2019
Dominican Republic Taïnori 64%
Aroma: intense dried fruit- apricots, cranberries, spicy, like zesty green vegetation, pepper, cedar, leather, cocoa powder
Flavor: A full flavor, with some complexity. Cocoa flavor itself is soft, like Nutella and ganache.
Definite fruitiness – chocolate covered cherries, orange rind, cranberries. Cookies, waffles, a little bit of green seed. Some dark flavors but not burned, dark roast, dark toffee, brownie, dark bread crust, chocolate bread with the bits of chocolate filling that get toasted, dark dried fruit, The darkness is complemented by the richness and dried fruit sweetness. Some bitterness, like cranberry juice but not quite that strong. They say roasted dried fruit. I don’t think I would have thought of that but it’s a really good description of the complex dried fruit flavors this bar has.
Recommendation: Recommended. A good bar with bold flavors.
Batch info: lot no. LP7519116, best by 10/2020, production date April 26, 2019
Valrhona Le Noir Extra Amer 85%
Flavor: Coffee grinds, earthy, some mild pleasant acidity. Dark roast, bitter aftertaste.
Recommendation: Not recommended. It has kind of a homogenized flavor with relatively few distinctive notes and personally I think it is too dark of a roast. It says it is made with African beans, which is very vague but we can assume it’s most likely Cote d’Ivoire and/or Ghana. Valrhona certainly makes some great chocolate, but I’m not a fan of this bar. Le Noir Amer 71% was better.
Batch info: L19226, Best by January 2021
Valrhona Blond Dulcey 32% Caramelized White Chocolate
Aroma: buttered popcorn, slightly waxy
Flavor: very sweet (as expected), a great dairy richness from the addition of milk and butter that evokes milky caramel and dulce de leche with a note of toasted grains and popcorn balls. They say freshly baked shortbread and I think that’s right on. Soft snap and a lovely golden color.
Recommendation: If you generally like caramel and white chocolate, I would highly recommended this bar. Our tasters who like white/sweeter chocolate loved it. It’s well done and nicely balanced, and it has more complexity of flavor than regular white chocolate. It is candy-level sweet though, so if you don't like that, skip this one.
Batch info: Best by May 2020
Guanaja 70% Blend
Aroma: raisin, sweet beeswax, honey,
Flavor: dusty, cocoa powder, raisin, nougat, blackberry, vanilla, chocolate pudding with blueberries, fudge, graham cracker, faint red fruit, brownie
Recommendation: Recommended – well made with pleasant flavors, but nothing thrilling.