Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Valrhona - Abinao 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate (bar) - Jan. 11, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Abinao 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.46 oz. (70 g.) total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.50 (US) for 1 bar
Purchased from:, online order

Bonjour and welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and European Chocolate Vacation Theme Week. Today's bar brings us (virtually) to France.

Today's Abinao 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate (bar) was from Valrhona (Tain L'Hermitage, France). Valrhona was founded by a pastry chef in the early 1920s. The company has continued to produce chocolate in the Rhone Valley near Lyon, in southeastern France since then. (In 1989 they opened a pastry and chocolate school.) 

As part of a virtual visit to the historic village of Tain, I'm enjoying a virtual drive through the wine country, admiring the rolling vine-covered green hills and views of the Rhone River. Also on the menu: an imaginary lunch at a brasserie and a local trail hike, after a stop at Valrhona.

And now on to tasting today's featured Valrhona bar...

Source-related text on the Valrhona Abinao bar packaging read: "100% of our cocoa is traceable from the producer." (While the country of origin was not specified for this Abinao bar, online research turned up the following: a blend of Forastero cacao(s), from Africa.) 

Aroma notes for this bar included: green, earthy, nutty, faint maple/brown sugar, and very faint floral, clean mineral and wood forest notes.

This well-tempered, attractively designed chocolate bar broke with a clean snap. It had an even melt and texture, with a slight tannic astringency beginning about 3/4 way through.

The flavor notes were consistent with the aroma notes above, with more pronounced rich chocolate-y (dark fudge brownie) taste. Flavors were well balanced, well managed and relatively complex and interesting. A moderate amount of smooth bitterness made it interesting and not too sweet (thank you). Vanilla added a bit of floral spice warmth and implied (chocolate baked goods) sweetness. The flavors lingered a bit into a relatively clean finish. 

If I were a pastry chef or chocolatier, and I wanted to rely on a sophisticated ultra-dark chocolate without deep dark surprises, I would likely enjoy working with this Abinao 85% chocolate. It also was pleasant to eat and relatively easy to pair with other foods and beverages.

Maker's tasting notes: "Bittersweet, woody, raw cocoa" "...Powerful and tannic dark chocolate." "Abinao 85% emphasizes a specific bitterness and exceptional long-lasting flavors."  

Ingredients: "Dark Chocolate (85% cocoa minimum, pure cocoa butter). Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: sunflower lecithin, natural vanilla extract. Milk (Made in a facility that uses milk). 

Allergen-related information: "Milk (Made in a facility that uses milk). May contain: gluten, nuts, soya." "May contain wheat, soy, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, chestnuts, coconut and/or all their derivatives."

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