In addition to the Hispaniola, arriving any day now will be the latest bar from Rogue—what Colin's calling Piura for the region in Peru from which the cacao comes. When I talked to him a few weeks ago, he'd just come back from a visit to the area. It's not all that easy to get to and I'm sure not easy to get the cacao out. The cacao comes from the farm of Juan Tirado, seven acres or so near the town of Morropon, way inland in Peru. This one is juicier than the Hispaniola. Colin went down to visit the farm and came back exceptionally impressed with the quality of the cacao and the agricultural work being done on the farm, both before the cacao pods were cut and after.
It's a pretty tiny batch—four bags is all they got so saying this is a limited edition is a bit of an understatement. Colin's taking "single origin" to sort of a new level with it, because it's more than just cacao from a single estate—it's actually from a single drying and fermentation. With "single estates," normally you have a series of different fermentations all falling into the same shipment of beans to the producer. Which isn't a bad thing, but it does slightly diminish the unique properties of each batch—much I think like blending milk from the same animals but from different days milking. Hardly a horrible thing, but you get the idea. Granularity of goodness. Terroir to the nth degree. I was thinking that you could take it further only by doing cacao from a single plant, but then I realized that this would be likely to make about one bar if you're lucky, so forget that idea.
Although chocolate bars aren't usually touted for their aromas, this one in particular is pretty aggressive in a positive way. Break a bit and hold the bar up to your nose and you'll get a good bit of liveliness. The flavor is equally alive. Colin's got the cacao at 75 percent but it's really more the beans, the fermentation, the roasting, and the production work that are what make it noteworthy. Mouthwatering. Teeny touch of tannins. Rose is what comes to my mind, raspberry. Almond butter. Toast. No vanilla in this one either. A hint of licorice in the finish maybe. A touch creamier than the Hispaniola. Very lively. I was thinking that it dances nicely on the tongue, trying to figure out which dance it was ... the foxtrot is what came to my mind but I don't know my dances well enough. Turns out though that the part of Peru where the cacao comes from is the home of the traditional Tondero dance. I can't do it, but clearly the cacao can.
I would be remiss (with myself at least) if I didn't mention the really nice graphics that make up the package for the Rogue chocolate. It's actually anything but Rogueish. Hand-done letterpress, nice designs, and great colors. As I've already said 16 times, I buy by flavor, not fashion, but if I were going to buy a package alone, this would be one of them. Supplies are small so eat it now before it's all gone.
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