FOUNDED IN 1924, VALRHONA
is now one of the most widespread brands in the market for high quality chocolate, and even runs an Ecole du Grand Chocolat
, which is a chocolate and pastry school for chefs. A large range of filled chocolates and chocolate-based sweets is complemented by some single-origin bars, some of which are from single plantations -- VALRHONA
being among the first chocolate makers to introduce such single-plantation chocolate in the nineties. VALRHONA
is also one of very few chocolatiers who produce single-origin bars from particular vintages. For example, you can get a 2006 and a 2007 Palmira
bar. Whether they are ahead of the game in doing this, or whether this is more a marketing ploy than anything else, remains to be seen.
Stores: VALRHONA is based in Tain l'Hermitage, France, and has a store there (see below). The VALRHONA website also has a list of dealers in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Their chocolate can also be found in many European supermarkets and food stores.
Tain l'Hermitage: 14 avenue du President Roosevelt, 26601 Tain l'Hermitage, France, Tel. +33475079090, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Availability: Being one of the most widespread brands of high-quality chocolate in the world, it can even be found in many supermarkets and food stores in Europe. It can also be ordered online directly from Valrhona, or from www.chocosphere.com (US) or www.chocolatetradingco.com (UK).
THE CHOCOLATE BARS
click on countries of origin for more information
PALMIRA 64% Venezuela
From the Palmira plantation in western Venezuela comes this rather sweet Criollo bar. In fact, as with some other bars with 64% (i.e. the low end of percentages for non-milk bars) the sweetness somewhat detracts from the flavours, which nevertheless reveal a good Criollo presence with a hint of spice and a good finish. The Palmira bar is one of three 'vintage' bars VALRHONA offers.
With the origin of the beans described as 'African', VALRHONA leaves us in the dark about the exact provenance of this chocolate. This however is the only negative comment we can make about this otherwise excellent, and unusual bar. It starts off with cinnamon and hazelnut notes, followed by strong flavours of blackcurrent, caramel and banana before ending in a dry finish. And despite the high percentage this bar is not very bitter at all.
This well-balanced bar carries hints of blueberries and - perhaps surprisingly - cream soda, and is perfectly pleasant.
This rather sweet bar displays notes of caramel and maple syrup but on the whole is not very complex.
Other bars by VALRHONA are the Jivara (40%), Manjari (64%), Tanariva (33%), Caraibe (66%), and Guanaja (70%) in the Grands Crus range, and the Gran Couva (Trinidad) and Ampamakia (Madagascar) bars in the vintage range.