Zotter’s Labooko Peru ‘Criollo Cuvée’ 82% chocolate bar

chocolate bar and wrapperI received this bar, which came in a two-pack, as a gift. It’s some of the best dark chocolate I’ve had in ages.

It’s made by the Austrian firm Zotter, which  makes organic fair trade bean-to-bar chocolates. They makes tons of chocolate products in a zany range of creativity, but Labooko is their line of chocolate bars – 49 of them, single-origin chocolates, fruit bars and more. The bars are beautiful, engraved with a curious design that I can’t decipher.

This is a single-origin, pretty special Peruvian chocolate. It’s conched 20 hours, and pays off with wonderful smoothness. But I’m jumping the gun.

It starts with the packaging. The wrapper is a very heavy paper and contains a lot of information. Fortunately, it’s well-designed; otherwise it could’ve ended up looking like a Dr. Bronner’s label. It includes a separate piece with non-snooty instructions for how to “savor” rather than “munch” it. The heavy paper I assume is meant to preserve freshness, which also is abetted by the inside foil wrapper.

The aroma of the bar upon unwrapping is chocolatey and peppery, although a strong aroma of sugar also comes through. These bars are 35 grams each, packed in packages of two for a total of 70g. The nutritional label (not as user-friendly as those in the U.S.) gives values for 100 grams. At 100 grams you’d be getting 18g of sugar, which tells me that the sugar content is a little less than 20 percent. So though dark and high in chocolate content, maybe this bar’s not going to be terribly bitter. Sodium content is negligible, which is one big reason to stick to dark, for me at least.

The bar isn’t scored but snaps cleanly.

On the tongue, the first taste that comes through is a light bitterness; so much for my sugar theory. It’s followed by toast, then a tart berry-like taste and aroma; to me it’s reminiscent of my grandmother’s raspberries, which brings up all kinds of great memories. Interestingly, it fades back through toast to cocoa to a pleasant mildly bitter coffee-like aftertaste. There are more flavors in there, but I’m not experienced enough as a chocolate taster to describe most of them.

I detect no graininess, which you shouldn’t with well-conched chocolate. By the end of the third bite I was getting a bit of alkaline dryness on the tongue and palate that made me perfectly happy to stop there and save the rest of this wonderful bar for later … well, OK, I’ll just have that last little bit and finish off the chunk I snapped off at the beginning.

I’m curious to try more of Zotter’s products. If the company is producing this chocolate as responsibly as it claims, it looks like something I can and will enjoy with an entirely clear conscience. Emphasis on “enjoy.”

About Gary Whitehouse

Gary has been reviewing music, books and more at the Green Man Review since sometime in the previous Millennium. He lives in a mostly hipster-free part of Oregon, where he enjoys dogs, books, music, the outdoors, and craft beer, cider, and coffee.