February 18th: Zotter Labooko Bolivia 90% & Peru 100% Dark Chocolates

It can be hard to remember sometimes that Zotter are a brand that take the quality of their chocolate very seriously. What with flavours such as 'Bacon Bits' and 'Peanuts and Ketchup' existing within their portfolio, it is all too easy to forget that at the heart of things, these guys are extremely capable when it comes to the standard of the chocolate they produce. Zotter's Labooko range is one that I think is meant to act as a timely reminder for just how prestigious their chocolate can be. You may recall that previously I have reviewed some fantastic offerings from this particular sub range already (See HERE & HERE).

In my latest sampling box from the guys in Austria, they included one their latest Labooko creations. This particular package included 35.0g helpings of their Bolivia 90% and Peru 100% dark chocolates, and came wrapped in the unique Labooko style. The wrapper opened like a book, revealing two thin gold foil wrapped bars which each had their own information and bean-to-bar story written on the inner paper sleeve. As I have written previously the whole experience felt very grandeur, and fitting of a top of the range chocolate brand.

Bolivia 90% - Although the Hotel Chocolat 85% dark chocolate is still my favourite chocolate of all time and not far off in terms of it's cocoa content levels, I was still pretty cautious at the 90% billing. Aroma wise the chocolate smelt delightful and emanated a complex set of roasted cocoa and dark treacle like scents. Placing the first piece in my mouth the melt was reasonably paced, though the flavour generation was surprisingly mild in it's initial sense. As the chocolate heated in the mouth the early brown sugar cocoa notes developed in to more complex flavours with suggestions of red wine, dark red fruits and coffee all leaving a lasting impression in the my mouth. The level of bitterness was manageable and the chocolate very rich, but the taste experience generated was just a little too intense for what could be regarded as totally pleasurable consumption.

Peru 100% - Having tried previous 100% bars to mix success I was even more wary that this may be one step to far for my taste. The on-pack blurb informed me that this bar had no other ingredients aside from 'pure cocoa paste' and would not have been affected in any manner by the conching process. Tasting the chocolate in little pieces, what surprised me the most about this chocolate was how radically the flavours varied from one piece to another. Although the texture wasn't particularly pleasurable throughout (too hard and grainy for my liking!), the taste swung from being managabley earthy and woody, to over bearingly bitter and frankly hard to consume. Unfortunately the vast majority of the bar was more the latter - there were more people on my mini tasting panel expressing negativity rather than positivity.

Overall these were extremely hard chocolates to rate on my scale and they have probably scored higher than you would have expected give my descriptions above. At the end of the day neither of these chocolates were particularly to my taste, I certainly wont be making any moves to buy them again having now reviewed them. Whilst I didn't enjoy either recipe for their flavour contribution, what I did really appreciate and get pleasure from was the experience that they offered taste wise. Both of these chocolates were so rich and full of flavour depth, it was absolute treat deconstructing the different influences as they came to the fore of the taste. Being totally frank, some mouthfuls of the Peru 100% bar tasted like ash cinders - horrible! At other times it offered a beautiful array of complex cocoa - in a perverse way it was oddly exciting not know what was coming next. On this basis I could recommend this offering as one to try for the experience rather than the end taste.

Bolivia 90% - 8.4 out of 10
Peru 100% - 7.6 out of 10