chocolate, like wine
Like superb wine and premium
olive oils, fine chocolates all carry a signature flavor. Their distinctive
tastes start with the original ingredient: the cacao bean. Wine
grapes vary by varietal, region of origin, harvesting methods and
weather. So, too, do cacao beans.
study a wine's taste, smell and visual cues to identify its region,
grape, barrel wood and year. Similarly, sophisticated connoisseurs
of chocolate can identify country of origin, cacao
tree type and processing methods; and can detect whether a chocolate
comprises beans from a single estate ("terroir") or blends.
Cacao trees come in three varieties: the Criollo, the Trinitario and the Forastero.
Grown mainly in Central America, the Criollo represents only 1% of world production. Some exceptionally rare Criollo is harvested only by dugout canoe deep in the Amazon rainforest.
Its cacao is fine and sweet, with complex
Forastero, grown largely in West Africa and South America, comprises
80 percent of world production and has a strong, bitter taste.
Trinitario, a flavorful bean that contains qualities of both
trees, is grown throughout the world, producing five percent of world
imports department to experience the surprising complexity of flavor
in fine chocolates in their pure states.