Tasting Notes: Creamy, with low bitterness and a nice, controlled tang of acidity. Notes of dried fruit and a subtle finish of fruit cake.
Communicating the concept of how terroir applies to real chocolate is one of our key missions at Origin Chocolate. It’s well known that soil conditions, micro-climates, and other environmental factors make wine grapes (or coffee beans) from around the world remarkably different. What is not nearly as well known is that the same principle applies to cacao beans! And with our recently acquired cacao from the Lam Dong province of Vietnam, we have a beautiful example of just how different cacao can be, even from within the same country!
Our previous (and currently unavailable) Vietnamese cacao came from Tien Giang province, about 270 miles southwest of Lam Dong province. To put that distance in perspective, 270 miles is roughly the distance between Houston and Dallas or Cleveland and Cincinnati. In other words, it’s not a distance that seems very large.
But Lam Dong province is located in the central highlands of Vietnam, while Tien Giang province is part of the low-lying coastal region of the Mekong Delta. The environmental conditions are quite different, and it shows in the final cacao. Whereas the Tien Giang cacao produces a chocolate that is bold and bright, with a remarkable finish of fresh raisin, the Lam Dong cacao delivers a chocolate which is softer and creamier, with more reserved notes of dried fruit and a subtle finish of fruit cake.
Like our previous Tien Giang cacao, this Lam Dong cacao comes to us by way of Marou Faiseurs De Chocolat, who have spent years bringing Vietnamese cacao into the limelight. In addition to making their own line of award-winning bars, Marou works with small farmers across Vietnam to get their cacao beans to markets around the globe.
Unfortunately both climate change and the worst drought in nearly a century are doing the young Vietnamese cacao industry no favors, especially in regions south of Lam Dong. Tien Giang, which quickly became one of our favorite cacaos of all time, has been unavailable for nearly a year, and we still aren't sure when we'll be able to get more.
As for the Lam Dong, it seems a bit safer so far. But you never know. In the last several years we've learned two things about Vietnamese cacao: 1) We really love it. 2) We never know how long it's actually going to be around.
So if you want to introduce yourself to Vietnamese chocolate, you might think about doing that sooner rather than later. Because when it comes to cacao from Vietnam, the only promise we can make is that it's delicious.