If for any reason you are in Edinburgh, I want to give you some advice, visit The Chocolatarium, a new place dedicated to the marvellous world of craft chocolate. It is a micro chocolate producer in the heart of Edinburgh, at few metres from the Royal Mile in the old town. Here you can have a full experience in the chocolate world in a comfortable and informal environment.
The Chocolatarium staff gave me a warm welcome and offered me the chance to attend a private event where I could taste British craft chocolates paired with an eclectic selection of wines form other countries in the world.
The first part of the tour was dedicated to visiting the so-called “Cacao Jungle”, a space where visitors can go deeper in their knowledge about the production of chocolate. A staff member interacts with the public and provides information, stories and anecdotes related to the cocoa plant, the characteristics of the fruit, the production process with the aim of explaining why chocolate is also known as “the food of the gods”. This phase of the tour is not just about theory, in fact while you are fascinated by listening to the story you also have the opportunity to start a sensory journey through the first chocolate tastings.
The tour continued in the kitchen-laboratory, a space pervaded by lovely aromas of roasted cocoa beans where the magic of their transformation into soft and velvety chocolate takes place. In the kitchen-laboratory we moved onto the most practical part, the creation of your own chocolate bar.
Everyone was able to have space for their own creativity and taste. In fact, each person could choose from milk chocolate, dark chocolate, a series of molds with the most diverse shapes (I chose one with the Scottish flag), as well as an innumerable quantity of toppings, from the most traditional hazelnuts to salted caramel, from raspberry to the most unusual of chilli and haggis!
At the end of the experience of making your own chocolate bar with your own hands, the tour moved to the tasting room. Seven different types of chocolate and six wines to play with to find out which combination would be the most harmonious.
Bread & Butter – Chardonnay – California U.S.A. – 2019
The grapes of this Chardonnay from California come from two totally different areas, Monterey where the long growing season allows grapes to totally ripen and Los Carneros where the temperatures are definetely lower and the acidity in the grapes higher.
- Look: clear, golden colour.
- Smell: medium (+) aroma intensity, green apple, peach, banana, pineapple, butter, biscuit and vanilla, developed.
- Taste: off-dry, medium acidity, medium alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) flavour intensity, long finish.
- Pairing: Bali White – Solkiki Chocolatemaker – This white chocolate is close in flavour to a dairy white bar. It’s creamy and sweet, using whole pod Madagascan vanilla and no added flavourings or fats other than cold-pressed organic cocoa butter.
Producer: Bread & Butter Wines
Incanta – Pinot Noir – Romania – 2019
Pinot Nero 100%
This wine comes from a country that in the last years has been attracting interest from wine enthusiasts for the rising quality in the wine production. The grapes are grown in small plots used since 1447 for wine production.
- Look: clear, ruby red colour.
- Smell: medium (+) aroma intensity, black cherry, raspberry and cinnamon, youthful.
- Taste: dry, medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, medium (+) flavour intensity, medium finish.
- Pairing: Peru Marañón Milk 60% – Chocolate Tree – Strong milk chocolate made from rare pure nacional cacao, grown in the Marañón canyon at the foothills of the Andes. Partially organic.
Produttore: Cramele Recaş
Three Vintners – Cabernet Sauvignon – South Australia – Australia – 2018
Cabernet Sauvignon 100%
This wine is a brand of the Casella Wines, an important Australian wine producer.
- Look: clear, deep ruby colour.
- Smell: medium (+) aroma intensity, black cherry, prune, blackberry, blackcurrant, chocolate with green bell pepper aromas on the finish, developing.
- Taste: dry, medium acidity, medium (+) tannin, high alcohol, medium (+) body, medium flavour intensity, medium finish.
- Pairing: Blood Orange 70% – Ocelot: ultra-smooth organic dark chocolate, infused with sweet, tangy, blood orange and a touch of creamy vanilla. Handmade, designed and packaged in a micro chocolate factory in Edinburgh, Scotland. Suitable for vegans.
Produttore: Casella Wines
Rioja – Gran Reserva – Spagna – 2012
Tempranillo 85% – Garnacha 8% – Graciano 7%
For this wine the Marqués de Cáceres winery selects grapes from old vines (65 – 85 years old) from the Rioja Alta region. The fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, then the wine is macerated for a long time to maximise the extraction of colour, aromas and structure. The malolactic conversion is made in new french oak barriques, the ageing takes place in first or second filled barriques for 24 to 36 months, then the wine stays in the bottle for at least four years.
- Look: deep garnet colour.
- Smell: medium (+) aroma intensity, blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, coffee, toast, vanilla, nutmeg, leather, wet leaves, tobacco, developing.
- Taste: dry, medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannin, high alcohol, medium (+) body, medium(+) flavour intensity, long finish, has potential for ageing.
- Pairing #1: Surabaya Gold 69% Dark Chocolate – Willie’s Cacao – Dark chocolate with rich caramel and toffee flavours born in the volcanic soils of Surabaya. Made from bean to bar, to capture the mind-blowingly different flavours. The chocolate is 100% natural, containing simply cacao, raw cane sugar and natural cocoa butter.
- Pairing #2: The Dark Side 75% – The Conscious Chocolate – Organic, Vegan and Raw. It is a sophisticated bar with Peruvian cacao and a touch of vanilla. Handmade in Sussex. All of the packaging is plastic free, recyclable and home compostable. The coloured print is made from vegetable inks.
Produttore: Marqués de Cáceres
Triana – Pedro Ximénez – Spagna – Non Vintage
Pedro Ximénez 100%
This wine from Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana winery is made using grapes dried on straw mats. The wine is fermented and fortified and is then matured under the Solera system. This is one of the sweetest wines on Earth.
- Look: clear, really deep brown colour.
- Smell: pronounced aroma intensity, aromas of date, raisin, figs, almond, hazelnut, chocolate, caramel and coffee, fully developed.
- Taste: luscious, medium acidity, high alcohol, full bodied with pronounced flavour intensity, long finish.
- Pairing: Peru (Piura Chililique) 70% – Chocolate Tree – In a remote mountain valley of Northern Peru, is the village of Chililique. In partnership with CacaoTales the farmers there are processing their cacao to a high standard. Cacao beans, cane sugar and cocoa butter are all organic certified.
Produttore: Bodegas Hildago La Gitana
Essensia – Orange Muscat – California U.S.A. – Non Vintage
Orange Muscat 100%
This is an interesting expression of Orange Muscat from California. This grape is a crossing of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and Chasselas; in Italy the variety is known as Moscato Fior d’Arancio (Orange Blossom Muscat).
The grapes are harvested, crushed, chilled and macerated to get the most of the aroma’s compounds. After a brief fermentation, the wine is fortified and finishes its maturation in old french oak barrels for about 3 months.
- Look: clear, deep gold colour.
- Smell: pronounced intensity of spicy fruits (orange, apricot and pear), fully developed.
- Taste: luscious, medium (+) acidity, high alcohol, medium (+) body, pronounced flavour intensity, long finish.
- Pairing: Single Origin – Dark – Sao Thomé – Callebaut – Intensely dark chocolate with an abundance of cocoa and hints of yellow and red fruits.
Produttore: Quady Winery