The Sambirano Valley in Madagascar is the source of fantastic cocoa used by many of the world's finest chocolate makers such as Amano, Domori, Rogue, Patric, Mast Brothers, Pierre Marcolini, Bonnat and, of course, Åkesson. Only Menakao, Madécasse and SoTsara, as far as I can recall, however, not only grow, but also process and package their chocolate on the island. Madagascar certainly doesn't do too bad for an origin that produces only around 4,000 tons of cocoa a year.
We spend many hours each month here trying to find new 100% chocolate for those of you who require chocolate without added sugar or its substitutes. So we have here a make in SoTsar that gets little mention around the chocolate circuit, but one we've acquired just to see what you guys think.
Firstly the tasting notes state: "the right harmony of a sweet dark chocolate, made from beans preciously selected by a great Malagasy Planter. So young through really strong with its one century experience. Real fine cocoa exclusively from Madagascar". Perhaps their English translation may have lost something, but, we agree with sentiment.
Flavour-wise there is a great deal of similarity with the Pralus 100% but there is a great deal more acidity present. The creaminess of the Pralus is certainly there and whilst the Criollo (unverified) does offer a pleasant experience there is a mixture of sharp citrus fruit, green leaves and pinewood.
Now I can't be sure that Criollo is used here, but I do know that the Frenchman Millot planted around 50,000 hectares of Criollo around the city of Ambanja almost 100 years ago, and I have strong conviction it is. I'm contacting the manufacturers to confirm.
NB: It must be noted that there are scuff and other marks on the packaging so I would recommend this chocolate only for personal consumption and not as a gift; unless that person is either very much into 100% chocolate or exploring chocolate that you can't otherwise get in this country.