As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been an online review of Amedei Venezuela chocolate since 2005 and at that time it was only available as 5 g tasting squares. Knowing that chocolate makers can tweak their methods over time and seasonal weather patterns can affect the beans, it seems like we are overdue to taste this bar. I’m happy to grab a full 50 g bar now and see what’s new with this dark chocolate.
Amedei’s “I Cru” series of chocolates each use cacao beans from a different region and plantation. The crus are created to express the unique climate and conditions in one small area as well as the farmer’s efforts to preserve a genetic lineage in the cacao beans going back for generations. In the Venezuela Cru, the beans are technically of the trinitario variety, but Amedei explains they have a genetic make-up that is more than 85% criollo. Amedei uses this combination of location and premium beans to create a unique and satisfying chocolate.
WHAT: Amedei Venezuela Single Origin Cru Chocolate. 70% Cacao. 50 g. Ingredients: cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla. May contain traces of hazelnut, almond, pistachio, walnut, milk. Where to buy Amedei Venezuela.
WHEN: February 13, 2011
OVERALL RATING: 89.
AROMA: Honey, banana, tea, angel food cake, vanilla.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Starts with cinnamon, cafe-au-lait and moves quickly into all the rest.
MIDDLE TASTE: Cafe-au-lait, coffee, a hint of blueberry, green apple. Very pleasant with slight to moderate complexity.
FINISH: Grapefruit, clean acidity, orange blossom, fades to little tinge of cinnamon and nutmeg. Most of the floral notes show up here.
TEXTURE: Ultrafine and smooth.
LAST BITE: Amedei has risen quickly to high stature in the chocolate world, propelled, in part, by winning the “Golden Bean” award for Amedei 9. The Golden Bean goes to the best bean-to-bar chocolate at the World Chocolate Awards, London. This doesn’t mean that all of their bars are fantastic, but there’s no doubt that they’re of consistently high quality and among the best in the world. For some people, many of Amedei’s bars are too delicate and balanced – like a sort of a Merlot of chocolate – pleasing to everyone, offending no one, but not taking any risks.
I don’t see a big problem with a chocolate that everyone likes, but more importantly, we should recognize the challenge and culinary risk-taking Amedei embraces when working with single origin beans. They don’t have the luxury of using a blend of different beans to balance the flavors as in Amedei 9. Instead, the beans from one region or plantation must be tamed by experimentation and hard work – like turning a wild horse into a gentle yet powerful, beautiful creature anyone can ride. Pleasing to everyone? I hope so.
 The term “Cru” is another word borrowed from the wine world. For French wine it’s used to designate a specific growth place such as one plantation or winery. This is a more narrow designation than say, Bordeaux A.O.C., where the grapes are allowed to come from anywhere in the region including many different vineyards. Cru wines, on the other hand, are supposed to express the terroir of that single vineyard.