There are now several quite important chocolate producers in California. There are historical precedents for this beginning from the days of the California Gold Rush. Ghirardelli has become a household name. Another early California, actually San Francisco, chocolate producer, was Etienne Guittard, who started in 1868, after arriving from France to mine gold. The mines got worked out; chocolate didn't.
Known as high quality suppliers of chocolate for other producers, GUITTARD, still family owned, has now produced a terrific new dark chocolate, L'HARMONIE. Made from both Criollo and Trinitario beans, at 64 % cocoa, and packaged in an elegant, 1.75 oz box of five wrapped tablets, it is not often encountered on the market. This is the first, and so far only consumer packaged chocolate, in what the firm calls its E. Guittard Collection.A very fine example of a high cocoa percent chocolate, it respects the flavor profile which a chocolate lover enjoys: excellent aroma, bite, and flavor, all in harmony. Upon tasting L'HARMONIE, a friend who does not favor dark chocolate said: "I am not a fan of dark chocolate, but this would make me turn the corner on it. This is good chocolate." Enough said.
DONNELLY CHOCOLATES are made by an artisan chocolatier in Santa Cruz, California, Richard Donnelly who started in business in 1988, 120 year after Etienne Guittard. DONNELLY makes 10, small batch produced, 1.6 oz tablets, elegantly wrapped in lovely paper, in dark or milk chocolate, that are blended in deliciously unusual and imaginative flavors. In dark chocolate there are: BITTERSWEET; ORANGE; ALMOND; CARDAMOM; GINGER and FIVE SPICE.
In milk chocolate, there are: MILK; COCONUT; HAZELNUT ALMOND TOFFEE and HAZELNUT. DONNELLY CHOCOLATES was the winner of the Best Artisan Chocolate award at the 1998 EuroChocolate Festival in Perugia, Italy. The Five Spice dark chocolate was one of the chocolates presented at the festival. You have to buy Donnelly chocolates during cold weather. They suffer in hot weather when it becomes difficult to ship them.RICHARD DONNELLY CHOCOLATES 1.6 oz tablet
Orange order #0317
Almond order # 0318
Cardamom order # 0319
Ginger order #0320
Five Spice order # 0321
Milk order #0322
Coconut order #0323
Hazelnut Almond Toffee order #0324
Hazelnut order #0325
BAROLO CHINATO (yes, the Barolo made from nebbiolo grapes) was created towards the end of the 19th century in Piemonte, Italy, at the height of the fashion for bark, herb, root, and spice flavored wines. It was created by the pharmacist of Serralunga d'Alba, Dr. Capellano--whose family's estate still produces one--and its name literally means a "quinined" Barolo.
Barolo wine, aged for some time in wood, was used since it had rather high alcohol (13.5% or more) and lots of flavor. Various barks, (notably china calissaya--Cinchona calisaya), herbs, roots, and spices are macerated in the wine; alcohol and sugar syrup blended in and the result matured further and then bottled. At the height of its popularity, almost every Barolo producer made one. In the 1960s, Barolo Chinato fell into wine oblivion and it is only in the last 5-6 years that these old recipes have been revived.
One of the producers who never stopped making Barolo Chinato was Cocchi of Asti. The firm, now owned by the Bava family of Cocconato d'Asti, continues this very well rooted Piemontese tradition, never having given it up. Corti Brothers has offered Cocchi Barolo Chinato before; now that chocolate is again back in favor, I would suggest that you take a look at the combination of Barolo Chinato to accompany chocolate. The bitterness, spiciness, sweetness, and warm, round flavor of Barolo Chinato make it an elegant companion for really high quality chocolate, probably the most difficult flavor to pair with wine. Barolo Chinato goes quite well with it.BAROLO CHINATO is equally delicious as an aperitif in any weather; but in cold weather particularly so; is an unusual ingredient in zabaglione, the frothy egg yolk based dessert/sauce, and as a digestivo after a meal instead of spirits. Here is a wine relic which has come back from the brink of extinction.
FONDILLON is produced from the red variety Monastrell in the region of Alicante, a southeastern, sandy soiled area along Spain's Mediterranean coast. Very well known during the Renaissance when Spain was the world power, FONDILLON had almost become extinct. There are three producers. The most important is Salvador Poveda, whose 1970 vintage we offered in 1996 and now offer the 1980.Very well documented at the court of Louis XIV of France, this rancio style wine made from sunned Monastrell grapes is also quite a companion to chocolate, dried fruits, nuts, or a good book. Its old tawny port-cum-oloroso sherry character with hints of cocoa shows precisely what cask age does to what is essentially a late harvest red wine. If you want to pull something out of your cellar for a blind tasting, here is your chance to stump experts.
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