All Results

May 2007: 9 tasters:   10 point scale

Final Round May 2007
Chocolate Country Percent Score
Cote d'Or Intense Belgium 70 7.75
Korkunov Dark Chocolate Russia 72 7.71
Valor Dark Spain 70 7.71
Castelain Tradition France 71 7.13
Galler Chocolate Noir Belgium 70 5.71
Amano Ocumare USA 70 5.57
Sams Club Germany/Belgium 70 5.44

First Round May 2007
Chocolate Country Percent Score
Cote d'Or Intense Belgium 70 4.9
Valor Dark Spain 70 4.6
Sams Club Germany/Belgium 70 3.8
Galler Chocolate Noir Belgium 70 3.73
Castelain Tradition France 71 3.73
Korkunov Dark Chocolate Russia 72 3.7
Amano Ocumare USA 70 3.7
Cluizel Noir de Cacao France 72 3.63
Venchi Cuor di Cacao Italy 70 3.13
Target Choxie unknown 71 3.1
Chocolatour Sao Thome Belgium 70 3.07
Slitti Gran Cacao Italy 73 3.0
Lindt Ecuador Swiss 75 3.0
Newtree Pleasure Belgium 73 2.93
Guittard Quetzalcoatl USA 72 2.8
Theo Blend USA 75 2.73
average
3.47

February 2007: 15 tasters:   10 point scale
I did this tasting for my Alumni Association (Reed College Bay Area Alumni Association). There were a couple of unusual things in this tasting. One was that Trader Joes Pound Plus did so poorly. I don't think it ever scored that low.
The other peculiarity is the anamolous scoring of the Chocovic Guaranda. I did this tasting in two pools and then simply combined the scores for the final result. However, I had the Guaranda in both pools. In one pool, it came in right at the top, in the other pool it was slightly above average. Since most of the people in the group did taste both pools, I can't really think of a good reason why it has such different scores.
Final Round February 2007
Chocolate Country Percent Score
Chocovic Guaranda Spain 71 6.21
Valor Dark Spain 70 5.88
Amedei Toscano Black Italy 70 5.68
Chocolove Strong Dark Belgium 70 5.60
Korkunov Dark Chocolate Russia 72 5.57
Slitti Gran Cacao Italy 73 5.51
Chocovic Guaranda Belgium 71 5.50
Suchard Sensations Switzerland 70 5.48
Newtree Pleasure Belgium 73 5.37
Theo Ivory Coast USA 75 5.35
Castelain Tradition France 71 5.31
Theo Blend USA 75 5.30
Venchi Cuor di Cacao Italy 70 5.21
Trader Joes lb+ Belgium 70 5.00
Chocovic Ocumare Spain 71 4.97
Cote d'Or Intense Belgium 70 4.40
Ghiradelli Twilt Dlt USA 72 4.24
Slitti Lattenero Italy 70 3.44
average
5.22

November 2006:   12 tasters:   10 point scale

I came back from Spain with a half-dozen interesting chocolate bars, so I decided to do a quickie tasting. I gathered up a few more chocolates and a few good friends and had at it. Probably a bad idea: participants complained strongly that the contestants were, by and large, not up to snuff. This was partly my fault for filling up the roster with a number of chocolates that, based on previous years, were not likely to do well. These chocolates will not be invited back.
I also messed up with the Suchard and it wasn't promoted to the final round, despite having the highest first round score. Based on that score (8.4) it would have romped.
Surprisingly, an upstart American Chocolate from Seattle did well, tying for second.
Final Round November 2006
Chocolate Percent Country Score
Suchard Sensations 70 Belgium *8.4*
Valor Dark Chocolate 70 Spanish 7.2
Theo Ivory Coast 75 USA 7.2
Ludomar 70 Spanish 6.8
Daskalides Papua New Guinea 72 Belgium 6.6
Target Choxie 71 ? 6.3
* For some reason, I didn't move this one up to the final round of tasting, so I just entered its first round score here.

First Round November 2006
Chocolate Percent Country Score
Suchard Sensations 70 Belgium 8.4
Target Choxie 71 ? 6.5
Theo Ivory Coast 75 USA 6.4
Daskalides Papua New Guinea 72 Belgium 6.4
Ludomar 70 Spanish 6.2
Valor Dark Chocolate 70 Spanish 6.1
Guido Gobino 70 Italian 6.1
Valrhona Guanaja 70 French 5.9
Trapa Noir 78 Swiss 5.7
Lindt Excellence 70 70 Swiss 5.4
Bonnat Hacienda El Rosario 75 French 5.1
Babayevsky 75 Russian 5.1
Ghiradelli Twilight Delight 72 USA 5.0
Negro 73: Sole 73 Spanish 4.8
Rajoles 70 Spanish 4.8
Cailler Noir Cacao Extreme 74 Swiss 4.6
Villars Swiss Dark 72 Swiss 4.6
Nestle Noir Intense 70 Swiss 4.5
Scharffen Berger 70 USA 4.5
Kamba Blend 70 Italian 4.4
Domori Puertofino 70 Italian 3.8
average 5.4

May 2006: 18 tasters:   10 point scale
Lotta chocolates and a lotta tasters. The co-winner was a Supermarket brand from the Co-op in Switzerland.

Final Round May 2006
Chocolate Country Score
Coop Noir Swiss 6.8
Castelain Tradition French 6.8
New Tree Pleasure 73 Belgium 6.6
Amedai Porcelana Italian 6.4
Korkunov Russian 6.2
Guido Gobino Italian 6.0
Cote d'Or Noir de Noir 70 Belgium 5.8
Venchi Cuor di Cacao Italian 5.6

First Round May 2006
Chocolate Country Score
Castelain Tradition French 8.4
Coop Noir 70 Swiss 7.2
Amedai Porcelana Italian 6.9
New Tree Pleasure 73 Belgium 6.7
Cote d'Or Noir de Noir 70 Belgium 6.5
Guido Gobino Italian 6.1
Korkonuv Russian 6.1
Venchi Cuor di Cacao Italian 5.9
Slitti Gran Cacao Italian 5.8
average
6.6
Lindt Excellence Swiss 5.6
Cluizel 72 French 5.6
Nirvana Tanzania Belgium 5.6
Castelain Macaibo French 5.5
Cailler Noir Cacao Extreme Swiss 5.3
Amedai Tuscany Italian 5.3
Nirvana Sao Thome Belgium 5.1
Amedai 9 Italian 4.8
Domori Italian 3.4
Domori Chacao 70 Italian 2.9
February 2006: 11 tasters:  10 point scale
Frankie hosted this tasting. It was somewhat unusual in that we had a whole bunch of Organics, which I insisted that we try in a separate tasting since they typically do so poorly. Much to my surprise, one of the chocolates in the organic pool, the Endangered Species Chimpanzee, did very well. On closer examination however, it turned out that, not only was it not organic, but it was also less than our minimum required cocoa - despite a loud "70%" label on the front. We disqualified it and decided to only include the top-ranking Trader Joes Organic in the final. It tied for sixth in a mediocre field.

Starting from this tasting, I switched to a 10 point scale, with 10 being the highest.
Final Round February 2006
Maker Name Score
Lake Champlain Sao Thome 6.4
Droste Barattini 6.4
ChocoVic Guaranda 6.4
Ghiradelli Twilight Delight 6.1
Valrhona Guanaha 6.1
Novi Novi 5.7
Trader Joe's Organic 5.7
Chocovic Ocumare 5.3

First Round February 2006
Chocolate Score
ChocoVic Guaranda 6.8
Lake Champlain Sao Thome 6.7
Droste Barettini 6.5
Chocovic Ocumare 6.5
Novi 6.4
Valrhona Guanaha 6.2
Sharffen Berger 72 6.0
average
5.6
Cluizel Los Ancones 5.6
Ghiradelli Twilight Delight 5.5
Neuhaus West Africa 5.2
Scharffenberger 80 4.3
Domori Apurimac 3.8
Trader Joe's Sao Tome 3.4

Organic Chocolates February 2006
Name Score
Endangered Species Chimpanzee 6.9
Trader Joe's Organic 5.6
Dagoba New Moon 5.4
Green & Blacks 5.2
Endangered Species Black Panther  4.9
Dagoba Conacado 4.8
Rapunzel 4.5
Average
5.3
2005

Very stiff competition this year. All of the top chocolates are repeat offenders. Surprisingly, 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: 2005 Tasting
Maker Name Percent 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


2005 Runners-up
Maker Name Percent 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: 2004 Tasting
Maker Name Percent 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


2004 Runners-up
Maker Name Percent 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.
2003
Chocolate Name Country 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.
2002b
Brand Chocolate 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.
2002
Brand Chocolate Name Percent 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

2001
Percent 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
Percent 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
Percent 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
Percent 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.