A few days ago, I received two bars of chocolate in the mail from Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate. I knew about Alan from the Seventypercent forums and for a while he had been developing his site, which I checked on periodically to see if progress had been made. Well, after not checking for quite some time—and not knowing what he was up to—it was surprising to learn he was making chocolate from the bean.
The bar in question was made from Madagascan beans, specifically from the Sambirano Valley. The first thing I have to commend Alan on is the chic packaging, which by far is one of the most engaging and artistic motifs I’ve seen in a while. Although it reminds me of Amedei’s Porcelana box, Patric’s is much more rustic, almost resembling a Renaissance painting in style.
Next is the actual chocolate itself, which when removed from the foil is as shiny and well molded as any other artisan producer such as Michel Cluizel or Valrhona. The bar simply looks radiant and superb all over. The aroma is the next pleasure to experience. It’s a typical scent for Madagascar, but there’s lots of interest here, taking on a resemblance to a Californian merlot. Dark raspberries, cranberries, then subtle hints of blueberries and prunes make for a wonderfully light aroma that implies strong acidity in the flavor.
And I was right. The flavor is strongly acidic, but not overly so. Alan has modulated it rather well, allowing the raspberries—and a hit of blueberries—to glide through inoffensively. One thing you may notice with the flavor is that it gets darker the more it melts, delivering prunes later and ending on a much darker tone than it started with. The texture is great, too, melting thickly but with plenty of smoothness that a Madagascan tends to do.
Overall, this is an explosive start for Patric. The chocolate is very lovely and easy to eat, but the complexities are extremely subtle and require a bit of patience to taste them. In this regard, the chocolate is very sophisticated, but the tartness brings the bar down to a much more accessible and lighthearted level. As such, it’s a versatile bar but equally delicious no matter how you taste it.
For comparison purposes, I recommend you try this next to Amano’s Madagascar. Amano’s is much more complex than Patric’s and also more assertive and in some ways wild. It’s a loud chocolate with a lot to say, while Patric’s is relatively low-key despite the high acidity. Both are excellent chocolates and unique in their own way. Whose is better? That’s for you to judge.