Monday, September 4, 2006

Michel Cluizel Les 1ers Crus de Plantation

One of my splurges last month with my ill-gotten-gain (payoff from a production company) was to buy some goodies from Mel & Rose’s and this was the big ticket item of the day (I would have bought more but the heat lately is death to chocolate). I’ve only tried Michel Cluizel once before and I wasn’t that impressed. But people keep telling me how good it is and I always enjoy the variety of a tasting kit.


Michel Cluizel is a French chocolatier who is not at all new to this, his company has been making gourmet chocolate since 1948. It’s one of the few chocolates you’ll find that has no soya lecithin in it. It’s just cocoa beans, sugar and vanilla. His single origin tasting kit showcases his chocolates that are created using beans from only one plantation. Most of the chocolate that we eat is a blend of beans from all over the tropics, or perhaps one region.

It came with a nice little brochure that talked about each of the plantations that the cocoa beans came from, but I thought it would be fun to taste the chocolates first and then see how I did. So my initial tasting notes are followed with the ones from the leaflet.

Los Ancones (green) x4 - What I tasted was ultra smooth. Slightly bitter at first with some very dark smoky notes but as the buttery chocolate gives way, more acidity comes through and gives way to raisin and cherry notes.

The brochure said:

These beans bring an elegance and freshness to this fine dark chocolate with a wonderful combination of aromas: liquorice at the front of the palate, followed by red fruits and a long finish of green olives, Corinth raisins and apricots.

Maralumi (fuscia) x4 - quite a bit more acidic than the first, this one was kind of tart and brought to mind olives and apricots (dang, I shouldn’t have read that brochure!). I was also getting some woodsy notes of cedar and balsam. The acidity gave the whole thing a dry finish with a slight bitter note that lingered far after the cocoa butter was gone.

The brochure says:

They give this mellow chocolate slightly roasted and spicy flavors of green bananas and acidulates flavors of red currants.

Tamarina (blue) x2 - quite tangy with some powerfully deep smoky notes and a lowgrade bitterness that was offset by some mellow sweetness. The chocolate is slick and smooth with a dry finish.

The brochure says:

Roasted, herbaceous and liquorice notes mingle in a beautiful length on the palate.

Concepcion (orange) x2 - a great start with instant chocolatey roundness, the smoke and woodsy notes come out right away, and perhaps some coffee, followed by some tangy notes that might have some mango essence in it. Then a crisp, dry finish.

The brochure says:

gradually reveals its thoroughbred character, in which intense aromatic flavours bloom at length with vanilla hits, honey spice cake and caramel aromas with deep notes of mixed dried and black fruits.

Mangaro Noir (yellow) x4 - instant notes of raisin and fig, sweet and mellow with a pleasant tang. There are also some balsam notes, maybe juniper or sage. It reminded me of the desert, that crisp feeling.

The brochure says:

combining exotic fruit flavors with delicious aromas of gingerbread and acidulated citrus fruit notes.

It’s obvious I’m getting the general vibe of each chocolate, but not the specificity that the brochure reveals about each one. I think part of it might be the small pieces. I liked the slightly larger E. Guittard tablets that I tried earlier this year, which makes it easier to discern the more obscure notes. I was really pleased with the smooth buttery consistency of each of the tablets, they’re all in the 64% - 70% cocoa solids range, so they’re intense without being too dense.

If you’re looking for some extensive reviews and commentary on the range of single origin from Michel Cluizel and how it compares to the rest of the world of chocolate, check out I was really pleased with the kit, it’s fun to share or just spread out over a week as I did. I’m always disappointed when they don’t do comparable numbers of squares for each variety, but it’s a small kit and really only appropriate for two people at most.

See reviews of all my reviews of Single Origins to date. I think my favorite is still the Chocovic Ocumare, because of it’s excellent well-rounded flavors and of course the price.

Name: Les 1ers Crus de Plantation
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Michel Cluizel
Place Purchased: Mel & Rose's
Price: $15
Size: 2.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 139
Categories: Chocolate, France, Michel Cluizel, Single Origin

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:37 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. You are very brave to compare your notes. I may someday try these, and I think the single planatation is definitely different. I wonder if it will catch on like Scotch Whisky or wine.

    Comment by Russ on 9/04/06 at 11:41 am #
  2. Impressive Cybele! You did well with getting the tastes and essences down, in my opinion.

    I need to learn how to do this…. grin

    Comment by Sera on 9/04/06 at 4:32 pm #
  3. Chocolates called “Plantation” sound a bit politically incorrect, and “Conception” for a name sounds a wee bit pretentious, even for a person, let alone a piece of candy.

    Good heavens, just reading the brochure, etc., made the act of eating seem like so much work!  I guess it might slow down one’s consumption, though, to make such an art of the chewing of candy!

    Comment by notricecakesandjellyagain on 9/05/06 at 5:30 am #
  4. Cybele's avatar

    Russ - yeah, well if I did really bad with the note I think the post would have been a lot funnier!

    Sera - I actually learned a lot by going to wine tastings. I don’t really like wine, so sitting around trying to pick out the more obscure flavors is much better than listening to someone drone on about hours of sunshine and mineral components of leeward soils.

    notricecakes - I think the word plantation has that connotation in the United States, but probably not France, where the chocolate is from. The cocoa beans are grown on plantations, though hopefully not using slave labor (there is some debate about that on the Ivory Coast with the use of children).

    I think tasting kits can be very sexy because they do make you slow down and recognize the sensual pleasures of the chocolate.

    Comment by Cybele on 9/07/06 at 10:35 am #
  5. These are some of the dumbest comments I have ever read regarding chocolate.  Your ignorance and stupidity are appalling.  Please don’t buy fine chocolate.  You should stick to your chocovic crap.

    Comment by catbird on 9/07/06 at 12:18 pm #
  6. i was having some chocolate cravings as usual, and i stumbled upon a sale on

    Leonidas Belgian Chocolate is on sale now! for only 20 dollars a pound! what a bargain!
    i can buy poounds for my friends and their cravings too!

    check it out fellow chocolate lovers

    Comment by danielle on 9/16/06 at 7:56 am #
  7. Thanks for your efforts, and apologies on behalf of the human race for catbird’s comments.  I’ve liked Cluizel’s bars, but they never seem to rise to greatness; there’s a shared identity I can’t quite name—something like too sweet an entry, an over-reliance on vanilla, and over-conching for a popular mouthfeel, I’m not sure what it is.  But they’re good.

    Comment by James Sweeney on 10/20/08 at 5:06 pm #
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