Valrhona Le Noir

Valrhona Le Noir 56% and 71%

Valrhona Le Noir 56% and 71%

This chocolate was introduced briefly in the last post as a widely available chocolate that we could use as a point of reference of sorts.   Of course, I planned to taste it all along – it’s no fun just to take photos.

WHEN: 6 June, 2009.

WHAT:  Valrhona Le Noir 56% cacao.  Organic.  Bean origin – “from Caribbean and Indian Ocean plantations.”  3.5oz (100g).  Price range: $

OVERALL RATING: 70.

AROMA:  Raisins, wax beans.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:  Butter, almonds, taffy.

MIDDLE TASTE – Caramelized sugar, cream, bananas foster, butter, vanilla.

FINISH:  Steady note of smooth cream and vanilla starting back in the middle taste through the finish.

TEXTURE:  Smooth.  Nothing notable.

WHAT:  Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71% cacao.  Organic.  Bean origin – not specified, but uses a mixture or Trinitario and Criollo beans.  3.5oz (100g).  Price range: $

OVERALL RATING: 74.

AROMA:  White grapes, lilac.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:  Peaches, toffee.

MIDDLE TASTE – Herbal notes, evergreen twigs, bananas, almonds, quick flash of cacao fruit – raspberry-like (it took me a while to get a grip on this quick flash of fruit.  It was like watching  a play and a purple-red spotlight grazes your eyes briefly – what was that?  Each piece I tried, there it was – simply, exactly cacao fruit.  Finally the raspberry note became more clear, so the effort wasn’t all in vein).

FINISH:  Citrus, subtle orange notes, hay, vanilla ice cream.

TEXTURE:  Smooth.  Nothing notable.

LAST BITE –  First of all, I didn’t intent to put down this product just because it’s widely accessible (even that’s an assumption since I live in an urban area and just about anything is widely accessible). No, this is very good chocolate.  I might even decide to make it my “everyday chocolate,” at least for now.   Just like my everyday wines – you know, the ones in the bargain bins at 2 for $15.  In our house, this means the $8 – 14 range.   Lately, it’s been closer to the $8 range or nothing at all.  The problem is that you can go through a lot of $8 wines before you find one worth buying more of. The rewards can be great, though – inexpensive bottles that knock your socks off.   I like to think about wine in tiers:  $8-14 for everyday, $15 – 25 when you want to enjoy a good bottle and $26 and up – you need a good reason to drink it.  Still, our $35+ bottles sit in the cellar waiting for a special occasion.

I do still like the idea of an everyday wine and an everyday chocolate not only because many of us can’t afford really exotic chocolates on a daily basis, but also because I need that point of reference to be reminded what truly special tastes like.  Fantastic is relative.  Relative to excellent, decent, OK, or inedible.  I don’t mean to imply that there is a direct correlation between quality and price either. Just as with wine, there’s not.  You need to do some searching and some tasting and decide where you want to spend your money.  In the end a 100g / $3 bar might not be inexpensive for some people, but you can decide what works for you. For now, the Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71% is a great place to start for my everyday bar.  As for those special occasions – Valrhona makes some specialty bars that I can’t wait to taste.

Disclosures: I paid for this chocolate myself.

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