I kicked this year off by reviewing an exceptional limited edition bar – Amano Cuyagua. Now it’s about time to get back into some chocolate reviews with bar that has an equally great reputation – Amano Montanya. Both chocolates use rare cacao beans from Venezuela, a place that has achieved the reputation of producing the world’s best beans. While beans from Cuyaqua are found close to the sea, Montanya’s beans must be brought out of the northern mountains on horseback.
Although difficult to access, these secluded cacao farms may have serendipitously benefited from their isolation by preserving precious cacao of the criollo variety. It’s thought that cacao tree grafts from the area around Ocumare were long ago brought up to these mountains, helping to preserve a species of cacao that now may have become more diluted back near the city of Ocumare. It’s in the remote northern mountains that Amano Artisan Chocolate found these special beans and was the first to turn them into a limited edition dark chocolate bar.
For an introduction to Amano, see this earlier chocolate review on Amano’s single-origin Bali chocolate, Jembrana.
- WHAT: Amano Montanya Single-origin Venezuela Dark Chocolate. 70% Cacao. 56g. Ingredients: Cacao beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans. Kosher Dairy. Where to buy Amano Montanya Dark Chocolate.
WHEN: May 1, 2011
OVERALL RATING: 90.
AROMA: Raisins, dried fruit, herbal, forest, black pepper, some leather.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Apple, raisins, dates.
MIDDLE TASTE: Cantaloupe, a burst of smoked ham, apricots, apple running through all of it with a touch of citrus. The middle is definitely the most fun.
FINISH: Apricot, cinnamon, caramel, chocolate milk, ending in green banana.
TEXTURE: More or less the fine smoothness that I’ve come to expect from Amano.
LAST BITE – What’s cool about the complexity of Amano’s chocolate is that you can taste it again days later and get a glimpse of something different – new dimensions. There are chocolates that I really enjoy like Grenada Chocolate Company’s 71% Dark Chocolate that are more monochromatic. These chocolates have their place, but Amano’s Montanya offers a different experience – one of nuance and subtly.
If I had to choose between Cuyaqua and Montanya (good thing I don’t), I’d have to give a the edge to Cuyaqua for it’s added complexity, elusiveness and a touch more smoothness on the texture, but we all know that it’s not so simple. The judges at the Academy of chocolate, London, may disagree with me since they awarded Amano Montanya the Silver Medal for best dark chocolate. I have to wonder if they had tasted the Cuyagua at that competition or not. Either way, both bars are among the best in the world and well worth a try.