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Monday, June 29, 2015
Chocolaterie A. Morin - Traditional French-made bean-to-bar chocolate
French chocolate makers usually come from several generations of craftsmen, much unlike our newbie (and often self-taught) North American chocolate makers. In France, the business is learned by the future chocolate maker at a very young age, then handed down from father to son when the son is an adult or when the father is ready to retire. In fact, there is a fascinating book on the subject called Crafting the Culture and History of French Chocolate by Susan J. Terrio, which explains how common this practice is among chocolate makers.
Chocolaterie A. Morin is one of these traditional French chocolate makers, proudly announcing "Depuis 3 generations" on their company logo. And they are especially unique because they also grow almonds, hazelnuts and morello cherries on their 15 hectares of orchards first planted by Andre Morin and then his son, Jean-Francois Morin in the south of Rhône-Alpes. With these raw ingredients, they make pralines, nougat and fruit jellies, much like the ones that zChocolat offers in their Provence collection, which I wrote about a few weeks back.
The name Chocolaterie also invokes the idea of those who run France's many boulangeries, charcuteries, patisseries and fromageries - if it has 'erie' on the end, you can be damned sure they are skilled at their craft, certainly an artisan, and they use traditional French methods to make their product. Although I did not need to read beyond the word 'Chocolaterie' to know this, the Morin website states that they work by "old tradition and handmade products".
When Jean-Francois Morin took over the business and worked on improving the manufacturing of the chocolate from the bean, he decided to do it traditionally with low-temperature roasting, five-steel rolls grinding machine and high-performing second hand equipment*. In addition, his son Franck Morin, spent four months on a plantation in Sao Tomé and Principe to learn more about growing cacao, in order to better the family's business.
I had the opportunity to taste two of Morin's many single origin chocolate bars. I tried the Venezuela Carupano Noir 70% and the Perou (Peru) Toumi Noir 70% bars. At first, I found the bars corpulent, making it difficult to break a piece off and too chunky in the mouth to taste and savour. However, the flavours that came through were very exciting.
Both bars reminded me of Soma's recent product releases: the CSB Chama and Porcelana and Soma's award-winning Peru Nacional, with its heavy cocoa flavour, but perhaps with less fruitiness. This is based on memory since I downed both of my recent purchases of Soma`s chocolate already, however I may not be far off. According to the C-Spot, the bean type used by A. Morin is Nacional, the same bean type as was used in Soma's Peru Nacional chocolate.
In A. Morin's Peruvian Toumi chocolate, there is an upfront bitter cocoa flavour and a fruity undertone (cherry and raspberry), with a smoky roast flavour on the finish that lingers nicely.
The Venezuela is made with cacao grown on a plantation in in Carupano, which is in the Venezuelan state of Sucre on the Venezuelan Caribbean Coast (ref). It also leaves a lingering roast flavour, but upfront you can taste cream and soft fruit, like peaches and a hint of woodiness.
Having only tasted two bars from this chocolate maker, my first impression of A. Morin is that they make chocolate with a focus on the beans, and less on adding a copious amount of cocoa butter to make it creamy. They make a nice solid piece of chocolate that requires a little time in the mouth to melt. Other French chocolate makers of long tradition, like Bonnat and François Pralus, tend to lead with the cocoa butter and an over-the-top creaminess.
In the end, the taste of both bars had a lovely lingering finish, and I wanted more. I have finished off the two chocolate bars rather quickly, which indicated that I liked them. I am looking forward to tasting more of A. Morin's origin chocolate in the future.
How can you buy A. Morin chocolate?
The chocolate factory is located in Donzère and there, they sell directly to the public. Or you can mail order in France and abroad (yup, that includes us North Americans) from their long list of limited-time-offer origin chocolate bars.
They do have an English pricing section of their website: http://www.chocolaterie-morin.com/tarifs/indexgb.htm and the e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org if you have product questions. You can also buy their chocolate in the U.K. at Cocoa Runners here.
To learn more about this chocolate, visit the company website: http://www.chocolaterie-morin.com
*Ref: "Profil, histoire, philosophie Morin", Chocolaterie A. Morin Informational Package (PDF), 2015.