Lindt Excellence 99% Noir Absolu

Posted by in Chocolate Reviews on February 2 2009 | Leave A Comment

I went through the chocolate stash, and put a challenge to the family today: “Here’s your choice, now what will we pick to taste today?” Oldest son has been nagging for months to try the Lindt 99% that we found in Germany. Today he won.

Lindt Excellence 99% Noir Absolu

Bear in mind we lugged this around Europe for weeks before getting it safely back to Australia, a mere half a world away. It’s then been safely stashed in the fridge to avoid the hot Australian summer. And before anybody says “What – keeping it in the fridge?” – yes. It’s a tip from Kath that seems to work fine. It sure avoids the destruction of a nice chocolate left in a hot house for a week – as we found last year when we turned 4 blocks of Lindt 70% into a dry, crumbly, whitish powder. Yuk. So the fridge is good.

Lindt Excellence 99% Noir Absolu

As you will see from the back of the pack, there is information and ingredients listed in just about every language apart from English. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it’s best stored between 14 and 18 degrees (Doh!), Also that the 99% is achieved from Cocoa mass, Cocoa powder, and Cocoa butter.

The surprises don’t end there. A chocolate must be awfully serious when the inside packaging is firstly, a serious plastic tray, and secondly, comes printed with serious instructions!!!

Lindt Excellence 99% Noir Absolu
Lindt Excellence 99% Noir Absolu

On that inside packaging, we have a graph showing intensity vs time, with separate lines for Cocoa aroma (steadily rising), bitterness (rising quickly, then very slowly increasing), astringency (bouncing around), acidity (rapid early peak, then falling and rising slowly) and finally, fruitiness (very slow rise). This all seems frightfully scientific. Doing my best with a rough-and-ready translation:

Recommendations for the tasting

Excellence 99% is an exceptional high-cocoa chocolate with an intense cocoa flavour. The full flavour is made up of different components which unfold differently during the tasting (see diagram above).

Experience the unique taste of this unusual chocolate: Aromatic Cocoa in its original form with an intense degree of acid and bitter notes and hints of candied fruit.

To be able to enjoy this particularly cocoa-intensive taste experience, Lindt recommends the palate gradually become accustomed to high-cocoa Chocolate, first with Excellence 70%, followed by 85%. Experience the unique flavour of Excellence 99% by using a small piece to break off and melt on the tongue. A cup of coffee to accompany unfolds the full flavour particularly well.

So after reading the instructions, doing the translation, yada-yada, the moment of truth arrived. Time to open the pack and see what’s what.

Lindt Excellence 99% Noir Absolu

On opening, we were immediately assailed by an intense cocoa aroma. Inside we have some very small squares (bear in mind, this is a 50 gram pack), I broke a few squares off, and then broke those into smaller pieces. Whilst the family have been moving gradually to the Dark Side, they are not all content to much their way through a Lindt 70% or 85% block like I am. So I was gentle with them.

First reactions came from oldest son: “Err, tastes of nothing much”. Well, it doesn’t, at first. The flavours build, and so does the bitterness (just like on the highly scientific graph). After about half a minute, there were grimaces all around. This is just too strong for them.

The Lady of the House declared that perhaps this is one for cooking with. Sacrilege! That amounts to swearing! Looks like I score all of the rest of the block for myself.

My own opinion is far more complex than that of the family: This really is a very dark, very intense, very bitter chocolate. The flavours start slightly earthy, and then the complexity builds slowly, over a matter of a few minutes. So does the bitterness. This is truly a masterpiece – to get something to 99%, with only a tiny amount of cocoa butter and sugar to hold it all together and prevent crumbling. But it is an acquired taste, and is certainly not for everybody.

This is the ultimate for the Dark Side Dwellers. Darth Vader, the Emperor, and all their cronies would be terribly pleased. (That’s a joke, geddit? Dark Side. Oh well, try harder next time). For me, I’ll be eking it out, very slowly, whenever I need a super-dark-chocolate hit.

As far as I know, we can’t get this in Australia. It seems to be readily available in France and Germany, and in England we saw it in Harrods for a couple of pounds each.


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Comments On This Post

  1. Susanne

    Finally a review of my favourite! The best chcolate ever, and a staple ingredient of my parents’ care packages from Germany. I do wish it was more widely available.

  2. Mariangela

    Hi Ashleigh,
    Storing chocolate in the cellar (if you have one) is also a good way to keep it safe from summer heat… In mine there is a stack of chocolate next to the wine bottles, and it works very well! Of course chocolate must be duly packed not to get any strange aromas from other food stored in the cellar.
    Bye from Italy!

  3. Dom (Chocablog Staff)

    I know they have extreme heat in parts of Australia at the moment, so I recommend getting a dedicated chocolate fridge. 🙂 Doesn’t need to be as cold as your regular fridge and a small drinks fridge will suffice.

  4. Extreme… yes indeed. 5 (or 6?) days over 40 degrees, and about another 7 over 35. It’s been awful. Protection of chocolate: a must!

  5. I don’t know about a dedicated chocolate fridge Dom, but I do hog the top half of the fridge door with my selections.

    I’ve heard from a little Lindt birdie that the 99% will be available in Australia soonish. I’ve tried some 99% buds from Belgium and they nearly caused my eyes to cave in, so maybe having some useful tasting notes like the ones Ashleigh had would have helped!

  6. I finally got a hold of one of these yesterday. . . and didn’t like it. It was too harsh for me with a blueberry sort of bitterness (not unlike a cacao nib) and I thought the texture was kind of weird. A little too dusty. Which probably has to do with the high percentage, but the other three bars I’ve had above 98% got around that problem just fine.

  7. leigh

    I’m actually online trying to source this chocolate, if anyone has any suggestions? I was clearing the supermarket shelves of this chocolate in Austria last year when I had occasion to travel there a few times. Such a fantastically rich and lasting taste.

    My preferred method is to break a square into 2 or 3 pieces and place one on the tongue then hold it against the top of the mouth while it melts. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    Explode your senses by drinking a decent red wine at the same time.

  8. Marisa

    I like my chocolate dark and mysterious (like…) I regularly have 85% Lindt, just found 90% in my local supermarket, so crossing my fingers for the big one 90% before the year is out – delicious!

  9. Callum

    Yes, the first time me and my dad (Hes the real Dark chocolate lover!) tried this we both were blown away! gradually we got around 10 grams into the bar before giving up the ghost.
    as far as I know, theres still 20 or so grams left!! definatly worth trying, if you think you can handle it!!
    Amazing reveiw! Keep it up!

  10. Jim

    I regularly have the Lindt 85% and had been looking for the 99. Finally found one and it’s definitely a challenge compared to the 85. I found that the 99% goes well with a sweet drink (Dr Pepper is my personal favorite). As mentioned squares are smaller than the 85. I prefer the 85 though.

    Note: Last week I found new Lindt 90% in the store. I really like it. It seems less bitter than the 85 and smoother in texture. Give it a try.

    (I’m also liking a Ghirardelli 86% Midnight Reserve – a bit of a fruity flavor.)

  11. gloria camden


  12. Lucy Selle

    My husband gave me Dark-Noir What do you do with it? I tasted it did not like it. Thanks Lucy Selle

  13. Ashleigh

    You could always store it in the fridge while you think about what to do 🙂

    And pull it out as a curiosity for friends to try.

  14. David

    I tried this wonderful chocolate recently, and decided to order 5 bars directly from Lindt USA. It is excellent in my opinion. What a wonderful, deep, robust flavor! I enjoy a small piece with a cup of green tea. It is a bit expensive at $5/bar, but it is so full of flavor that it is worth it. Since it is to be taken in small quantities, each bar will last a bit. This kind of strong, full flavored dark chocolate is definitely an acquired taste, and for the true lover of high quality chocolate. I might even say that this is an “adult” chocolate, not your kids Mars bar.

  15. I bought this chocolate and gave to my friends. The reactions were:
    -“Tastes like concrete”
    -“It’s a little sh*tty”
    -“I need water. Fast!!!”
    -“Arrgh. How awfull.”

    Me, my brother and my friend loved it. The darker the better.

  16. Aesir

    This is available in Australia to buy at Lindt Cafe’s. I got a bar from the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney.

  17. Luis

    Perfect with a good whisky!

  18. Chocoholic from India

    I think I’m going to draw the line at 85%…even 70% is too intense for me. The worst thing to do with Lindt is to gobble the entire chocolate square in one go…the bitterness kills you instantly. I once read that the Aztec emperors of the 15th century used to drink several litres of melted chocolate like we do with milk shake or hot coffee. That gave them a lot of virility and strength in warfare. An overdose of chocolates can be as addictive as cocaine or other drugs. I don’t know the verdict, is too much chocolate bad for you? I can’t have enough of it. Most people I know hate chocolates. I’m generally not much of a foodie but have a strange addiction to chocolates which feels over-indulgent and sinful. I don’t think I know of anyone who eats/drinks as much chocolate as I do. I’m also very surreptitious about it; just when noone’s watching, I can gobble an entire 200 g packet of chocolates in one serving. I usually prefer dark chocolates in the range 40-70%. I also like chocolate liquors on cakes, pastries, pancakes etc. I don’t know if I’m ruining my health but I just can’t stop.

  19. Cristi C

    Yes, I experienced two packs of 99%. OMG. The water seemed sweet after the first attempt. Initially, the bitter taste reminded me of Metamizole sodium or dipyrone (marketed under various trade names, including Algozone, Algocalmin, Analgin, Dipirona, Novalgin, Neo-Melubrina and Optalgin).
    But I would like to taste it again. Otherwise, in terms of cost effectiveness, you are better with 2x 85% at the price of 1x 99%.

  20. Chris M

    I loved it. Goes perfect with a single malt whisky or a freshy ground and brewed coffee.

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