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Three and a half years of constant chocolate reviewing has meant I have reviewed an awful lot of chocolate but the wonderful thing is that there are still some glorious brands out there of which I haven't even scratched the surface. One of these very brands appears to be Valrhona - if we all indulge ourselves in a little wikipedia for a minute ...
"Valrhona is a French chocolate manufacturer based in the small town of Tain-l'Hermitage in Hermitage, a wine-growing district near Lyon. The company was founded in 1922 by a French pastry chef, Albéric Guironnet, from the Rhône valley and has five subsidiaries and 60 local distributors across the globe. The company also maintains the École du Grand Chocolat, a school for professional chefs with a focus on chocolate-based dishes and pastries. Valrhona focuses mainly on high-grade luxury chocolate marketed for professional as well as for private consumption"
My only past experience with Valrhona chocolate came when I tried out Lucky's Cakes (See HERE) and it was that very flirtation that led me to buying this 70.0g Jivara bar. This Jivara offering came described as a creamy 40% cacao milk chocolate which has been made using beans hailing from the Foratero plantations. Expectations were high so I called in my expert chocolate tasting panel (the people I sit next to at work haha :D ) to help me out with some well valued second opinions.
The chocolate came packaged as a flat panel slab and looked the business from the start with it's sleek black box and inner foil wrapping. The chocolate whilst thin was easily divisible thanks to some prepared block grooves and it broke with a lovely sounding snap which reaffirmed the fresh smelling cocoa scents being offered. Placing the first piece on my tongue both the flavour and melt initiated upon contact, and it was literally only a matter of seconds before I was treated to a lovely soft melt and burst of wonderful flavours. As promised by the on-pack blurb this was indeed a very creamy tasting milk chocolate and the taste from start to finish had strong undertones of rich double cream that seemed entirely fitting with the way in which the bar melted to a similar sort of thick liqueur state. The luxurious mouth feel of this melt was complimented with supplementary hints and notes of different flavour influences, with elements of caramel and butter frequently emerging from the sweet cocoa chocolateyness. The long lasting end note of vanilla made for a rich and satisfying chocolate that was met with seals of approval from all that tried it. In the words of a fellow colleague this was a 'posh chocolate that was worth paying more money for'.
Overall this Valrhona Jivara bar certainly didn't fail to live up to expectations and it has managed to earn itself one of the highest scores so far this year (2011) on the ChocolateMission rating system. Whilst I was mid-reviewing this bar (had taken the photos and researching it!) I learnt that this bar had won a silver award in the latest Academy of Chocolate awards for the 'Best milk bean to bar' category. Having tried it now myself I can only add my own appreciation to that of those more experienced chocolate experts - it was genuinely a joy to eat from the very first block to the last. Before anyone ask what is my favourite between this and the Galler Lait Pleine Saveur I'm going to declare myself 100% sitting on the fence :D All you guys need know is that they play in the same ballpark, and that the Valrhona Jivara is a milk chocolate that you simply need to try now if you are any sort of chocolate lover.
9.3 out of 10