Chocolate Tasting Results 2000 - 2004

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2005 18 chocolates tested
2004 22 chocolates tested
2003 32 chocolates tested
2002B 27 chocolates tested
2002A 34 chocolates tested
2001 21 chocolates tested
2000 43 chocolates tested

2005


Very stiff competition this year. All of the top chocolates are repeat offenders. Surprinsingly, last year's Italian strong men fell out of the competition. I believe it is the first time a French chocolate has won.

Top Ten:

Maker

Name

%

Country

Price

Score

First Round
Score

Bernard Castelain Tradition 71 France $7.50

4.03

3.79

Trader Joe's Pound Plus 70 Belgium $3.95 (500 gm)

3.99

3.87

Cote d'Or Noir de Noir Intense 70 Belgium $3.99

3.95

3.73

Dolfin Chocolat Noir 70 Belgium $3.45

3.85

3.87

Chocolove Strong Dark 70 Belgium $2.19 (90gm)

3.83

3.83

Michel Cluizel Amer 72 France $5.10

3.82

3.63

Chocovic Guyave 71 Spain $3.95 (80 gm)

3.74

3.63

Trader Joe's Organic 73% 73 Belgium

3.64

3.70

Bernard Castelain Macaibo 70 France

3.56

3.75

Average = 3.81

Runners-up:

Maker

Name

%

Country

Price

Score

Chocolove Sao Tome 78 Belgium 3.61
Guittard Sur del Lago 65 US $3.50 3.23
Slitti Gran Cacao 73 Italy $8.95 3.19
Slitti Lattenero 70 Italy $8.95 3.17
Amedei Extra 70% Dark 70 Italy $7.95 3.15
Venchi Cuor di Cacao 75 Italy $6.75 2.88
Michel Cluizel Tamarinda 70 France 1.77

As usual, people's tastes vary considerably, with correlations ranging from 0.91 to -0.76.


2004


Where did these Italian chocolates come from? Throw them into the mix and they practically take over. Over-all, everybody agreed that these were pretty damn good chocolates. This was our first try with two rounds of tastings and it went very smoothly. And what happened to Frey Noir Speciale? It was number one just last year, now it can't even make the final.
All prices are per 100 gms unless otherwise.

Top Ten:

Maker

Name

%

Country

Price

Score

First Round
Score

Amedei La Tavoletta 70 Italy $7.50

3.94

3.95

Cote d'Or(1) Noir de Noir Intense 70 Belgium $3.75

3.80

3.97

Chocolove(1) Strong Dark 70 Belgium $2.19 (90gm)

3.78

3.50

Slitti Gran Cacao 73 Italy $5.94

3.70

3.62

Cuba Venchi Cuor di Cacao 75 Italy $5.99

3.53

3.20

Suchard Sensations Noir 70 Swiss  

3.52

3.23

Dolfin(1) Chocolat Noir 70 Belgium $2.75

3.47

3.06

Trader Joe's(1) Pound Plus 70 Belgium $3.95 (500 gm)

3.31

3.46

Chocovic(2) Guyave 71 Spain $4.24 (80 gm)

3.29

3.07

Chocovic(2) Ocamare 71 Spain $4.24 (80 gm)

3.00

3.28

Average = 3.53

Runners-up:

Maker

Name

%

Country

Price

Score

Frey Noir Authentique 78 Swiss 3.08
Pralus(2) Ghana 75 France $5.77 2.99
Caillers Cacao Extreme 73 Swiss   2.96
Chocovic(2) Guaranda 71 Spain $4.24 (80 gm) 2.94
Valrhona(1) Noir Amer 71 France $2.20 2.92
Frey(1) Noir Speciale 72 Swiss   2.83
Grenada Chocolate Company   71 Grenada $5.50 (113 gm) 2.65
Galler(1) Chocolate Noir 85 Belgium $4.60 2.56
Café-Tasse(1) Extra Noir 77 Belgium $3.99 2.55
Pralus(2) Colombie 75 France $5.77 2.42
Pralus(2) Madagascar 75 France $5.77 2.23
Pralus(2) Vanuatu 75 France $5.77 1.19

Average (including the original scores of the top ten) = 2.98

Chocolove from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's Pound Plus and the Chocovic Ocamare and Guaranda from Trader Joe's. The Swiss ones were provided by Frankie. The rest from Chocosphere or Chef Shop.
(1) These are top scorers from years past. Generally they have made it into the top eight at least twice. The rest are all new to this tasting.
(2)These are all single bean varietals. That is, they are each made from a single type of bean (Forastero, Crillo or Trinatario) from a particular region.


2003


Just so people don't get complacent, this time there were two different repeats of the same chocolate (Chocolove and Rovira). In each case they were different halves of the same bar.

Kind of Chocolate

Country of Origin

Score

Frey Noir special 72% Swiss

33.0

Baratti 70% Italian

31.5

Chocolove 70% Belgium

30.5

Sainsbury Belgian Plain 72% Belgium

30.2

Thorntons Dark 70% Belgium

30.0

Poulain 1848 Noir 76% France

29.9

Gaston Total Eclipse 72% Belgium

29.6

Starbucks Dark 70% Germany

29.4

Rovira Rajoles 70% Spain

29.1

Chocolove 70% Belgium

28.4

Dolfin Noir 70% Belgium

28.0

Valhrona Noir Amer 72% France

27.6

Munz - 70% Swiss

27.5

Cote d'Or Noir de Noir 70% Belgium

27.0

Valrhona Guanaja 70% France

27.0

Rovira Rajoles 70% Spain

26.7

Villars Swiss Dark 72% Swiss

26.5

Castelain Macaibo 70% France

26.3

Galler Chocolate Noir 85% Belgium

26

Average

 

25.5

Desiree ? Belgium?

25.0

Lindt 70% Swiss

24.9

Sharffen Berger 70% USA

24.8

Cluizel Amer Brut 72% France

24.1

Dagoba new Moon 74% USA

22.3

Cadbury Bourneville 76% France

22.2

Nestle - Intense 74% France

20.8

Droste 72% Holland

20.5

Rechiutti 85% USA

18.3

Dolfin Noir 88% Belgium

18.2

Castelain Extreme 85 France

17.6

Valor Pure Dark 70% Spain

17.0

Cote d'or Brut 86 Belgium

16.8


2002b


We did a special extra tasting before Christmas. The winner was an unknown Belgian Chocolate from Desiree's in Sunnyvale. The Valhrona Noir Amer was tasted twice and got very different results. Some people could swear they tasted them as different, others couldn't tell. They were two different bars, but the same kind.

Brand

Name

Percent Chocolate

Score

Unknown Belgium    

57.3

Chocolove Strong Dark

70%

56.4

Frey Noir Special

72

55.5

Pierre Marcolini  

85

54.8

Castelain Tradition

71

53.7

Castelain Macaibo

70

53.6

Gaston Total Eclipse

72

53.5

Valhrona Noir Amer

72

52.4

Caffarel Extra Fondante

72

52.2

Cluizel Amer Brut

72

52

Schokinag  

71

52

Droste Pastille

72

51.2

Cote d'Or Noir de Noir

70

50.8

Sharffen-Berger  

70

50.1

Cote d'Or Sensations

70

50

Nestle Noir Frutee

70

49.3

Pierre Marcolini  

72

48.7

Average

   

48.0

Poulain Ligne (San Sucre)

70

47.8

Poulain 1848 Noir

76

47

Le Gamin  

77

46.8

Valhrona Noir Amer

72

46.3

Desir Noir de Noir

74

44.5

Poulain 1848 Noir Ultime

86

43.8

Starbrook Airlines Extra Dark

77

43.8

Cote d'Or Brut

86

41.6

Dolfin  

88

40.5

Lindt  

85

35.8

Cluizel  

99

12.7


2002


I've started to limit the selection to 65% and above. There are still too many chocolates to taste before the mouth gets confused.

Brand

Name

% Chocolate

Score

Cote d'Or Noir de Noir Intense

70

28.4

Galler Chocolate Noir

85

27.2

Gaston Total Eclipse

72

26.6

Chocolove  

70

25.8

Callebaut Origine Sao Thome

70

25.0

Lindt 70

70

25.0

Valhrona Noir Amer

71

24.8

Cluizel Ilha Toma

65

24.4

Villars Swiss Dark

70

24.4

Valor Pure Dark

70

24.1

Trader Joe Pound Plus

70

23.8

Montezuma Very Dark Organic

73

23.8

Cluizel Amer Brut

72

23.7

Frey Noir Special

72

23.6

Castelain Macaibo Single Cru

70

22.8

Valhrona Carre de Guanaja

70

22.8

Schokinag Dark

71

22.5

Castelain Noir Intense

77

22.0

Galler Langues de Chat

70

21.9

Guittard l'Harmonie

64

21.8

Galler Noir Extreme

72

21.6

Average

 

 

21.38

Café Tasse Extra Noir

77

21.1

Weis Palets de Chocolate Noir

75

20.8

Bonnat Ceylan

75

19.8

Sharffen Berger  

70

19.2

Swartenbroekx  

77

19.0

Teuscher Chocolate 77

77

18.7

El Rey Gran Saman

70

17.6

Green & Black Organic Dark Chocolate

70

16.8

Domori Blend #1

78

15.8

Leysieffer Jahrgangs Schokolade

85

14.8

Bonnat El Rosario

73

13.4

Dolfin Noir 88 de Cacao

88

12.5

Domori Barrique

75

12


2001


Smart money was on the French this year. Not only have they traditionally been the top placers, but one-half of the 2001 field came from the land of the parlez-vous. Just to make sure, we imported Phillipe, a French native, to bias the field. Philipe voted patriotically for the Bonnat, but nobody else liked them. Instead, the denizens of Poirot's land galloped into first, with three of four Belgium entrants placing in the top five.

The French were also the most expensive. The Bonnats ran about $6.85 at Dean and DeLuca's and Cluizel cost $5.29 at Draegers.
This year, in an attempt to reduce our choices, I limited it to 65% and above. I also recalibrated our scoring system: Taste was worth 60%, Texture 15%, and After-taste 25%. Again, most of the chocolates came from Oakville Grocery in the Stanford shopping center, with Draeger's, Dean and DeLuca's in Santa Helena and Trader Joe's providing most of the rest.

Chocolate Dark and Dastardly

% Chocolate

Name

Origin

Rank

Avg of
5 pts

72

Droste Extra Dark Holland

 

2.6

70

El Rey Gran Samán Venezuela

 

2.6

72

Gaston Total Eclipse Belg

1

3.7

70

Bernard Castelain Macaibo France

2

3.6

70

Chocolove Strong Dark Belgium

3

3.1

77

Chocolove Extra Strong Dark Belgium

5

3.2

71

Valrhona Noir Amer France

 

3.1

70

Caley's Marching Chocolate UK

2.7

70

Scharffen Berger U.S.A.

 

3.1

70

Valrhona Guanaja France

 

3.2

72

Michel Cluizel Chocoalt Amer Brut France

4

3.3

70

Lindt Excellence Switzerland

 

2.8

70

Fauchon Noir Amer France

 

3.1

77

Bernard Castelain Intense France

 

2.9

88

Michel Cluizel 1er Cru d'Hacienda France

3.0

70

Swiss Noir Swiss

2.6

75

Bonnat Madagascar France

 

2.4

75

Bonnat Chuao France

 

2.4

75

Bonnat Equateur France

 

1.9

75

F'eo D'or Germany  

2.2

77

Swartenbroekx Belgium  

3.0

Average

 

2.89

         


Again, Oakville Grocery in the Stanford Shopping Center had the best over-all selection, including the Gaston and the Cluizel. Dean and DeLuca's provided the Castelain and Whole Foods the Chocolove. The Chocolove is probably the best bet for your money: the Cluizel generally is the most expensive.

2000


Our plans this year are to divide the chocolates into three categories,

Bittersweet - with chocolate solids between 51% and 57%,
Mid Dark - between 58-69%,
Dark
- 70-88% chocolate solids.

Interested in just my opinion?

Bittersweet

% Chocolate

Name

Origin

Rank

Total

55

Continent Noir Dessert French

 

22

?

Ülker Bitter Lüks Çikolata Turkey

2

32

55

Chocolove Dark Chocolate Belgium

1

35

56

Valrhona Noir France

2

32

52

Neuhaus Plain Dark Chocolate Belgium

2

32

56

Côte d'Or Noir de Noir Belgium

 

27

55

Valrhona Equatoriale France

2

32

55

Verkade

 

29

54

Delicata Dutch

 

26

52

Droste Dutch

 

30

?

Trader Joe's Belgium

1

35

Average

 

30



Mid Dark

% Chocolate

Name

Origin

Rank

Total

60

Laboratorio Artigianale del Giandujotto Italy

3

38

58.5

El Rey Bucare Venezuela

 

30

60

Bossner No. 777 Luftschokolade Germany

 

27

60

Feodora Edel-Bitter Germany

 

32

60

Michel Cluizel Chocolat Amer France

1

40

60

Callebaut Bittersweet Belgium

 

30

64

Hawaiian Vintage Kea'au USA

 

31

64

Hawaiian Vintage Kona Estate USA

 

36

64

Van Leer Break up USA

 

32

66

Michel Cluizel 1er Cru d'Hacienda Concepcion France

 

33

66

Valrhona Caraïbe France

 

33

65

Chocolove Rich Dark Belgium

 

35

60

Luxus Germany

2

39

 

 

Average

 

34


Dark

% Chocolate

Name

Origin

Rank

Total

72

Droste Chocolade Extra Puur Holland

 

30

70

El Rey Gran Samán Venezuela

 

34

73

La Maison Du Chocolat Cuana France

 

35

74

Nestlé Grands Chocolats Noir France

 

24

70

Chocolove Strong Dark Belgium

 

34

77

Chocolove Extra Strong Dark Belgium

 

32

71

Valrhona Noir Amer France

 

34

70

Valrhona Pastils Extra Noir France

1

39

70

Scharffen Berger U.S.A.

 

30

70

Valrhona Guanaja France

 

30

72

Michel Cluizel Chocoalt Amer Brut France

2

38

70

Lindt Excellence Switzerland

 

33

70

Callebaut Extra Bittersweet Belgium

 

31

70

Dolfin Chocolat Noir Extra Belgium

 

31

88

Dolfin Noir Extra Belgium

3

36

70

Swiss Noir Swiss

1

39

77

Hachez Cocoa D'arriba  

 

24

77

Arks Edelbitter  

 

33

70

Kunzli  

 

33

 

Average

 

33



The best selection of Chocolates I've found in Sili Valley is at Oakville Grocery in the Stanford Shopping Center. Draeger's, right around the corner, is also pretty good. Whole Foods usually has Chocolove and some Valrhona. Beverages and More used to have more, but their selection is going down. Prime Chocolate, at www.primechocolate.com, provided the Hawaiian and Dolfin varietals.