Week 4. Nuance Chocolate 2012 Sambirano Valley Madagascar 70%

Cacao: 70%        Type: Dark chocolate         Origin:  Madagascar

 Region: Sambirano Valley

Ingredients: organic cacao, cane sugar

Where to Buy: in store, Old Town Fort Collins,  or (coming soon), online here

Average Price: $8-10     Bar Size: 55 g. (1.94 oz.)

Cacao Origin Map

Personal Tasting Notes

When it came time to taste this week's mystery bar, my first whiff of the deep aroma was familiar to me. I took the first bite, tasted the flavors change and develop, and thought to myself, "Madagascar. 70%." To find out I was spot-on in this was hugely exciting for me, since most accomplished chocolate tasters can easily identify country of origin and cacao percentage in the chocolates they taste and, well, I don't really consider myself accomplished yet. Yet....

I'll probably run out of descriptors for my affinity for Madagascar chocolate--I find it so bold, and exciting, and complex, and sophisticated. There is a rich and exciting aroma in a well-treated Madagascar, and this bar completely satisfied that. When I took that first bite, the opening colors were dark and a little broody; cocoa and molasses were the first on my palate, but then a beautiful, classically Madagascar thing happened: a tang began to creep in, subtly for a few seconds, and then WHAM! Bursts of red fruit, citrusy zing, and tartness overtook all that darkness like fireworks on a dark night. All this dazzling brightness swirled around the tongue and then slowly faded out and settled back into darker notes again, this time of coffee and burnt sugar, with just a little bit of astringency to remember it by. 

Maker Profile

Nuance began with Toby and Alix Gadd and their love of chocolate. They were smitten by the craft chocolate bug after a trip to a Costa Rican chocolate museum, and Colorado is now home to their chocolate making genius. 

I discovered Nuance on a trip to Colorado last year; a friend I was meeting, knowing how much I love good chocolate, suggested we try this new chocolate place in lovely downtown Fort Collins, and as soon as we walked in the door, I knew it was going to be amazing. Single origin bars of several descriptions sat in beautiful rows behind glass cases which contrasted starkly with the old brick industrial feel of the shop walls, along with confections of all sorts. A tasting flight of single origin bars was available, as well as brewed cacao (one of my favorite hot drinks), and Toby Gadd himself was there--incredibly friendly, informative, and accessible, all qualities I really value in a chocolate maker. 

As we sat and enjoyed our flight of chocolates, the door opened and in rolled a cart, of all things!  The manufactory for Nuance is located a block or so away from the shop, so the chocolates are hand-carted in, in a beautiful hand-made cart which we dubbed "the goat cart", owing to the beautiful Nuance logo which bears the image of a spry little goat. Everything about the experience at Nuance was, well, nuanced. It made me proud to be part-Coloradan, and glad that such capable chocolate makers were there to fill the gap left when Ritual Chocolate, another well-known craft chocolate maker, moved their facility from Colorado to Utah. 

Grading Rubric

Criteria
Good Characteristics
5
4
3
2
1
0
Bad Characteristics
Appearance
clean, shiny, snappy
  
  
  
  
  
  
bloomed, dull finish, no snap
Aroma
complex, distinctive
  
  
  
  
  
  
neutral, boring, flat
Start
flavors develop quickly
  
  
  
  
  
 
flavors slow in coming, uninteresting
Middle
flavors develop and change
  
  
  
  
  
  
flavors remain the same as the start
Finish
flavors change again and linger well beyond the chocolate
  
  
  
  
  
  
flavor ends abruptly, uninterestingly
Mouth Feel
smooth, velvety
  
  
  
  
  
  
grainy, inconsistent
Personal Preference
love, love, LOVE it!
  
  
  
  
  
  
meh.
Criteria
5
4
3
2
1
0
Characteristics
Appearance
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: clean, shiny, snappy
0: bloomed, dull finish, no snap
Aroma
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: complex, distinctive
0: neutral, boring, flat
Start
  
  
  
  
  
 
5: flavors develop quickly
0: flavors slow in coming, uninteresting
Middle
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: flavors develop and change
0: flavors remain the same as the start
Finish
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: flavors change again and linger well beyond the chocolate
0: flavor ends abruptly, uninterestingly
Mouth Feel
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: smooth, velvety
0: grainy, inconsistent
Personal Preference
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: love, love, LOVE it!
0: meh.

Flavor Profile