The Jembrana Regency lies on the southeast coast of Bali where rich volcanic soil and high humidity provide ideal conditions for growing cacao. Cacao beans from Bali are typically blended with beans from other parts of Indonesia so their identity is lost to some extent. After discovering the potential of these special beans, Amano broke from this tradition and transformed them, undiluted, into single-origin dark chocolate.
Amano Artisan Chocolate is the creation of Art Pollard who over a ten-plus year period acquired and repaired antique chocolate making equipment to build a chocolate factory high in the mountains of Utah. Achieving a deep understanding of chocolate making over this time – not just the process but also bean varieties and cacao cultivation – he has gained international recognition for his small batch chocolate. Amano has been decorated with over 50 awards, including a bronze medal from the London Academy of chocolate for the Jembrana bar, and has a following so strong that they often run out of their limited edition bars.
I’m not sure why I haven’t reviewed any Amano bars before, so let’s get going with this far-flung single origin Jembrana bar and sometime soon I’ll try to get to one of the limited edition bars.
WHAT: Amano Jembrana. Single-origin Dark Chocolate from the Jembrana Regency of Bali. 70% Cacao. 56g. Ingredients: Cacao beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans. Kosher Dairy.
WHEN: November 11, 2010
OVERALL RATING: 89.
AROMA: Marshmallow, light coffee, leather, peat moss, toast.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Caramel, butterscotch, buttered toast, forest.
MIDDLE TASTE: Wow, there was an unusually deep and long middle taste. Creamy, butter, bananas foster, vanilla ice cream, walnuts, pudding, fig, coconut, and avocado.
FINISH: Café-au-lait, another wave of vanilla, crème brulee, faint peat, and light florals like rose. I experienced a super long finish that just faded quietly away with just a touch of astringency, but without any hint of bitter or off notes.
TEXTURE: Smooth and luscious. Really flawless. I gave a 10 for texture.
LAST BITE – The aroma was surprising simple and gave no clue to the complexity of flavor that awaited me. I had tasted this chocolate when I led a group tasting recently and some people were a bit overwhelmed by earth and peat, but I didn’t feel those notes were excessive. Instead there was this rich, smooth buttered toast and avocado that dominated along with dried fruit / tropical fruit. What was truly remarkable is that all the way through there were no off notes – no discernible acid, no bitter woody finish. Just a long smooth ride.
We know that Art has put a lot of care into every step of the process to get these results. While some chocolate makers brag about how many days they painstakingly conche their chocolate into velvet smoothness, Amano takes a different approach – conche it for as long as it needs to be conched and no more. Otherwise, you will drive away desirable flavors while you chase smooth mouth feel. Still, I think this has been conched quite a while to achieve these super-clean flavors, a process that can be very expensive, but well worth it. The results speak for themselves.
1) I paid for this chocolate myself.
2) The cover art painting is by Martina Shapiro.