It isn’t that I’ve been actively avoiding Michel Cluizel’s chocolate up until now, I just haven’t had many opportunities to sample his wares. Even when I’ve been in France, I’m more often mesmerized by everything Valrhona and so it wasn’t until I went shopping in Eastern Canada a few weeks ago that I finally picked up one of his bars.
My ignorance of all things Michel Cluizel meant that I wasn’t sure where to start, so I went to one of my comfort zones and selected the Plantation Mangaro 65% bar. It is a single origin bar using beans from Madagascar. It has already come in for some praise in the past, winning 1st prize at Salon du Chocolat back in 2003 and a Great Taste award in 2008 so that fact alone let me know that this was likely going to be a tasty bar of chocolate. And it is.
It is a lovely looking bar – a rich mahogany shade with a wonderful sheen, and a design which mirrors the design on the packaging. The chocolate snaps nice and cleanly, and the texture is incredibly smooth. From a purely technical side, there’s a lot to be impressed about and that’s without even considering the flavour.
Simply put, yum. There’s a lot going on here with the typical fruity and berry notes from the region which slowly retreat leaving hints of lemon and the merest suggestion of ginger. The balance of flavours is really great because it doesn’t taste sweet even though it is merely 65%, and the added vanilla simply smooths out any rough edges without treading on anyone’s toes. Really, really good stuff.
Based on this, I’m kind of kicking myself for not trying some Michel Cluizel chocolate sooner. It is easily the equal of Valrhona’s Manjari bar which is the archetypal Madagascar chocolate, and that is high praise indeed. Search this one out – you won’t be disappointed.