Love in the Time of Chocolate

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The Terroir of Chocolate – Part 3

by L.M. Archer, FWS


Hey wine and chocolate lovers! You’ve just bitten into that 85% dark chocolate truffle, paired with a lovely little pinot noir from the Willamette Valley…the chocolate caressing the inside of your mouth, the wine whispering gently…your body and soul wrapped in conjugal bliss around the world’s most toothsome twosome…

…ever wonder who conjures up all that artisanal chocolate magic?  Recently, binNotes caught up with Amano Chocolates  founder and Head Chocolatier Art Pollard to talk about love, passion, and the terroir of chocolate.  Amano  means ‘they love’ and ‘by hand‘ in Italian – a name evocative of award-winning  Amano Chocolates‘  love and passion for the careful crafting of artisan chocolate through traditional methods, exacting standards, and exotic sourcing.

Tell readers a little bit about the ‘story’ of Amano Chocolates.

“We launched in 2007 with the single most goal of creating the world’s finest quality chocolate. This is of course, a tall order and somewhat subjective but, I’ve always believed if you are going to do something, do it all the way. It was a long journey prior to launching of course… It took two years to build our factory with lots of experiments to ensure that the finished chocolate wasn’t just good but was exceptional.

Somehow, National Public Radio managed to get samples of our early test batches. Much to our surprise, in February of 2007 they announced that we were one of the best chocolates in the US. We hadn’t launched yet but we looked at each other and said:”I guess we just launched.” We turned on the website and that began an amazing journey.

Since launching, we have won over 150 first place awards through competitions in Europe and the United States. What is more amazing to me however is how what we have done has touched people’s lives both here and in our farmers lives. The joy that I see in their eyes when I take the finished chocolate back to the farmers is truly priceless. As to whether we make the world’s finest quality chocolate, I’ll leave that up to you. It is after all a highly personal question. The world’s finest chocolate truly is the one we love the most.”

As a chocolatier, do you find that the terroir of chocolate ­,like wine ,­ informs its flavor profiles?

Most definitely, the terroir of the cocoa has a huge affect on the finished flavor of the chocolate. At least if the chocolate maker wants it to. Many of the interesting flavors are actually removed by the larger chocolate companies. There are many reasons for this. One of which is consistency. The large chocolate companies want their chocolate to taste the same day in and day out. Hershey’s still tastes like it did 50 years ago or when it first started. (It was made with spoiled milk then and is made with milk that is artificially spoiled now.) I understand and somewhat appreciate why they make these decisions. One of which is they don’t want to be confronted that the chocolate they made last week, last month or last year was better than what they are making today.

In their quest for consistency however, they miss out on the wonderful world of flavor. Cocoa is after all an organic ingredient. It comes from plants, it is made from the soil in which it is grown and is subject to weather and other environmental effects.

To make the chocolate consistent, the beans are roasted way past the point where the interesting and wonderful flavors are. These flavors are literally “burned out” leaving a mass of roasty flavors instead that come primarily from the burned cellulose that has undergone a maillard reaction. The aromatic flavor compounds go literally up the chimney.

However, with good fine quality chocolate such as Amano, these flavors are preserved. Roasting is a process where the natural flavors of the bean are actually enhanced and brought out. Just as spices are enhanced by a light gentle roasting, so too are cocoa beans. Too much however just means the flavors are lost rather than enhanced. ”

 If terroir indeed informs the flavor profile(s) of chocolate, how does that translate into the chocolate grown and used in Amano Chocolates?

Each chocolate that we make is completely and totally unique in terms of flavor when compared with the other chocolates we make. We have one made from literally the world’s most highly sought after cocoa, for example, (Chuao) that has a huge number of layers of flavor that keep coming at you in intoxicating waves. Another, our Dos Rios is more straight forward but, tastes like bergamot orange and lavender. (These aren’t flavors we are adding, they are a natural component of the beans.) Both are incredibly delicious but for very different reasons. Another chocolate we have tastes like grapefruit but has this incredibly leatheriness and earthiness to it. Each and every time you taste a chocolate made by Amano, it has its own story not only in terms of where the cocoa comes from but also in terms of flavor.

Where does Amano source its chocolate?

We source just about all of our cocoa directly from the farmers who grow the cocoa. This means we often have really incredible relationships with the farmers and their families. The farmers with whom we work live in countries such as : Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Venezuela. Needless to say, I have quite a few frequent flyer miles at this point.”

You mentioned three (3) basic types of chocolate. What are they, and where are they grown?

“Classically, cocoa is divided up into three groups: Criollo, Trinitario, and Forestero. Criollo has meant cocoa that has a genetic heritage through Venezuela. Forestero comes from the upper Amazon basin. Trinitario is a variety that is actually a hybrid between the two that originates (as the name implies) from Trinidad. These varieties have been transplanted all over the world. However, most of the cocoa out of the Caribbean is Trinitario and most everything out of Africa is Forestero as it is what is preferred by the large chocolate companies due to Forestero’s high disease resistance and productivity. (Flavor is far down on the list of priorities for the industrial chocolate companies. It is far more important for them.)

These terms are often confusing and are used differently by different people for different reasons. Modern genetic research has shown eight distinct genetic groups and it is my belief that many more will be found as genetic research continues. Each variety has its own unique flavor characteristics and each genetic group has many sub­groups. Cocoa has never really been bred like other agricultural crops so there are few distinct native varieties like we have with apples. (Though there are clonal groups.) All in all, the mix of genetics and flavors are really exciting. There is the very real possibility that neighboring valleys will produce very different cocoa and finished chocolate. Even more amazing is you can have a similar effect with neighboring farms.

Can you take readers through the basic process in making an Amano Chocolate bar? 

“Wow, that is huge… The amount of work that goes into making chocolate is far more than anyone ever expects. But, here is the ‘short’ run­down:

  •  The trees are highly disease susceptible. Thus the farmers have to put a lot more work into their cocoa trees than other crops. So, as you can imagine, it all starts with a farmer who cares for their trees.
  • Each pod must be hand cut from the tree. (Not picked but hand cut so as to not hurt the tree.) Each pod equates to approximately one chocolate bar.
  • The pods are split open by a machette one by one and the beans removed and then pulled from the central stock they grow on.
  • For 3-­7 days the beans are fermented in giant wooden boxes. Each day they must be taken out and turned over and put back in. That’s a lot of work.
  • The cocoa is dried. This takes 5-­7 days. The cocoa is put out in the morning and brought back in in the evening. Some farmers turn it over every hour.
  • The cocoa is then put into bags and shipped to us.
  • We hand sort the cocoa to remove any sticks, stones, and other items that aren’t supposed to be there.
  • The beans are hand roasted in our antique cocoa roaster.
  • The beans are dumped onto a cooling table that cools the beans and stops the roasting process.
  • The shells are removed in our winnowing machine. (All built of mahogany and maple.)
  • The bits of bean (now called nibs) are stone ground into a paste.
  • Sugar is added.
  • The cocoa (now like bread dough) is fed through a refiner that makes this smooth. This is all done with buckets and by hand so it is a lot of work.
  • The chocolate is put in the conche. We have a complicated conching process. The difference between not enough conching and too much is about 30 seconds.
  • The chocolate is unloaded and it is filtered and run past magnets to ensure it is safe.
  • The chocolate goes into our cool room to harden into 50 lb.blocks.
  • When it is time to mold, the chocolate is remelted.
  • The chocolate is tempered so it will crystalize properly. This is a heating and cooling process and can be quite tricky.
  • The chocolate is then fed into a molding machine that injects the chocolate into molds.
  • The chocolate cools and hardens.
  • All the bars are hand wrapped and put into boxes.

Yep, it is a huge amount of work.”

Anything else you care to share about Amano Chocolates with readers?

“I love what I do. Each of us is completely absorbed and passionate about what we do.”

Finally, here’s a question I ask all the winemakers I interview, and it seems appropriate to ask you as a chocolatier: “If making chocolate has taught me anything, it’s taught me…?”  

“Each and every step is the most important step.”

Check out Art’s cool Amano Chocolate blog here – cheers!

The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 1

The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 2 


Thank you:

Art Pollard, CEO  / Aaron Davidson- Amano Chocolate 


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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. 

Terroirist Tuesday: International Food and Wine Pairing Blogger RoundUp

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Terroirist Tuesday: International Food and Wine Pairing Roundup

Read binNotes’ contribution to International Food and Wine Pairing Blogger Roundup here.

Cheers to London’s upscale Roberson Wine

for including binNotes in the fun!


 Check back  for binNotes’ upcoming summer features:

Terroirist Tuesday: Napa for Normal People

Wine Region Road Trip: The A, B, E’s of EcoTravel

Meet the Winemaker: Vigneron de Bourgogne Exclusive



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Thank you:

Carlo – TUG

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Vins de Provence Rosé: Pink is the New Black

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS

Vins de Provence Wine Pairing at Mistral Kitchen

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 Real men drink rosé.

That’s right. Rosé is the new black. And a pink that men CAN drink- as evidenced at the recent  Vins de Provence  wine tasting hosted at Mistral Kitchen.


Blame it on the Phocaeans, who settled the port city of Massilla (modern-day Marseilles) back in 600 BC, bringing with them vines to cultivate, and the birth of winemaking in France.

By 200 BC, Massilla allied with the Roman Empire. The Romans came, saw and renamed the region “Nostra Provincia” (‘Our Province.’) Membership in the Roman Empire had its privileges, earning Massilla the right to export its wines across the vast Roman Empire. By 100 BC, Massilla’s wines grew in stature along the Mediterranean. During this time, winemakers introduced short maceration before fermentation, producing wines of a pale color. These pale wines earned renown as the prestige quaff of aristocrats.

Over the centuries, various vagaries of church and state dimmed Provence’s light as a wine region – until the 14th century, when landed patricians and religious orders acquired and developed vast vineyards in the area. Provence and rosé held court again until the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century,  which decimated most of the vineyards. A tenacious region, Provence once more re-established itself at the turn of the 20th century.


Today, 90% of Provence’s wine production is rosé,  accounting for 10% of world’s rosé. Moreover, rosé is the only wine that’s enjoyed sustained double-digit market growth each year for the past 9 years.

The wine regions of Provence. | Image: Courtesy Vins de Provence.

Image: Courtesy Vins de Provence.

Three (3) of Provence’s major appellations produce 96% of the region’s AOP (Appellations of Provence) wines. These include:

Côte de Provence: Provence’s oldest and largest appellation, 85% production is rosé, and  75% of Provence’s total rose production. Côte de Provence’s four other non-contiguous subregions include:

  • Côte de Provence Sainte-Victoire
  • Côte de Provence Fréjus
  • Côte de Provence La Londe
  • Côte de Provence Pierrefue

Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence – Provence’s second largest appellation,  35% rosé. Note: Cabernet Sauvignon introduced here in 1960.

Coteaux Varois en Provence  – A chalky, mountainous interior region known for some of Provence’s more powerful rosés.

The balance of Provençal appellations include:

  • Bandol: Seaside-facing ampitheatre-shaped vineyards featuring man-made stone walls.
  • Cassis: Provence’s oldest AOC composed of terraced limestone cliffs overlooking the sea. 70% white – primarily aromatic Marsanne with resinous, saline, floral and fruit notes.
  • Bellet – Terraced single commune above the Var River near Nice, known for its rose-petal aromatic rosés. Note: It’s the only AOC authorized to produce chardonnay in the region.
  • Palette – Smallest appellation with strict aging requirements: 8 months for rosés and 18 months for reds:  Note: Produces vin cuit served with traditional 13 Desserts de Noel Provençaux.
  • Les Baux de Provence – An organic and biodynamic stronghold straddling both sides of the Alpilles Mountain range. Note: White wine production is not authorized here.
  • Coteaux de Pierrevert –  Newest, most northern AOC with strong alpine influence. Note: Bordeaux grape production not authorized here.


Other influences upon Provençal terroir include a balmy Mediterranean climate, which ensures over 3000 hours of sunshine a year. Oh, and a little thing called the Mistral – a cold, dry wind  the blows away humidity almost 150 days of the year.

Several mountain ranges punctuate the soils of Provence, dividing the calcareous limestone, clay and sand of the west with the quartz schist of the east. Western soils produce wild resinous herbs known as garrigue, while the east low-growing scrub grows, the vegetation adding a distinct subtext to the flavor profiles of Provencal wines.

These nutrient-poor soils support an abundance of grape varietals, including Grenache, Rolle, Syrah, Mourvédre, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tibouren.


Provençal winemakers follow the same short maceration times developed 2600 years earlier, using the direct press method. This means the grapes are pressed immediately after picking to retain freshness and pale color. Rosé is made from red grapes, not a blend  of white and red, so winemakers avoid longer skin contact and concomitant darker juice pigmentation.

Complexity develops through blending small-batch, single-variety rosés, then combining them into a final cuvée for the desired aroma, balance, and flavor profiles. Most undergo élevage in stainless-steel tanks, though some winemakers now employ judicious use of oak in some rosés.

Provence rarely employs another method of making rosé, known as saignée. In saignée, a portion of the juice is ‘bled off, and the rest of the juice and skins remain to make red wine.


Vins de Provence define rosé as a dry wine with the ‘character of a red’ and the ‘crispness of white.’ Designed to pair well with food, Provençal rosés provides versatility and range – as an apéretif, small bites sidekick, or full meal deal.  Think of it as the LBD of wine. Pink IS the new black…santé!

Vins de Provence Tasting Menu wines included the following:

1a. Le Provencal 2013 – 14.99. 50% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 10% Syrah. Low yields, high concentration of flavors. Soils: Sandy limestone.  Soft color, fruit notes,  mouth feel and finish.

1b. Terres de berne 2013 – 19.99. 50% Cinsault, 40%Grenache, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Rose-petal pink, acid plus, tart fruit flavors.

2a.  Sables d’Azur Rose 2013 – 11.99. Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache. Soils; Limestone pebbles, clay, sand. Salmon-color, white flowers, red fruits, citrus. Clean, fresh, sharp finish.

2b. AIX Rose 2013 – $20  Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Counoise. Soils: Mineral-rich limestone, gravel, clay. 70% direct press, 30% saignée. Apple, mineral notes.

3a. Les Clans 2012 – 65.00. Grenache, Rolle, Syrah, Tibouren, Cinsault. Chalky clay from NE highland area near Fréjus. Triage: 3x. 90% free run, 10% mild press. Barrel fermented 10 months in 600-litre demi-muids. Battonage 2x weekly. Herbal, tannic.

3b. Quat’Saisons 2013 – 24.00. Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah. Hand picked, sorted. Light press. Light fining, natural sedimentation. Soil: Clay/limestone slopes w/ small stones. Highland area – more inland. Pale strawberry color, stone fruit, citrus.

4. Terra Amata Rose – 11.99. 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan, 8% Rolle, 2% Ugni. 105 Saignee, 65% direct press, 25% old maceration. Aged 4-6 mos. in vat. Soils: Silicious-clay soils. Best bang for the buck – smooth, soft red fruit and citrus flavor.

Click here to learn more about Vins de Provence.


Thank you: 

Julie A. Peterson, Vins de Provence – US Office

Eric Entrikin, Master Sommelier

William Belickis, Chef/Owner – Mistral Kitchen

Mistral Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.


Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS

WITWIB? Wines of Provence Wine Tasting at Mistral Kitchen

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I’m in a rosé state of mind…. after a fabulous recent wine tasting hosted by Wines of Provence and paired with the provocative flavors of Mistral Kitchen.

 Master Sommelier Eric Entrikin and Vins de Provence host Julie Peterson  put attendees through our wine tasting paces, while chef/owner William Belickis dazzled with his culinary delights.

Check back later this week for the low down on summer sippers from sunny Provence…and the inside scoop on my current trip to Napa, including some exciting, under-the-radar artisan wine makers.


Mistral Kitchen on Urbanspoon



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Restaurant Intervention: Le Caviste, Seattle

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.  

binNotes reprises ‘Restaurant Intervention’ for a cameo appearance by Le Caviste  in downtown Seattle. Luckily, no intervention required…

By L. M. Archer, FWS

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Need an authentic Parisian bistrot-à-vins fix? Alors! Look further than Le Caviste in downtown Seattle.

Le Caviste channels all the best features of that favorite little Parisian bistro you’ve secretly dreamed about revisiting someday – you know the one…tucked away in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower (or, in this case, The Space Needle…) with quaint chalk board menus offering up the daily plats du jour and wines by the glass, charming butcher-papered tables, and that inimitable French bonhomie.

Le Caviste has it all, including a truly Parisian-inspired wine list.

Let’s talk about the wine list. Both white and red lists feature affordable, everyday regional wines by the glass or bottle. Whenever possible, wines sourced reflect organic and sustainable vineyard practices.

Delightful finds include a blanc and rouge from  France’s Savoie, as well as those from the more familiar Loire, Rhone, Bordeaux, and Burgundy regions. In search of something a bit more complex? Look for a hidden gem or two premier crus tucked among the carte des vins, with uncharacteristically modest prestige pricing to match.

Generous plats du jour groan with locally sourced bread, eggs and mushrooms, charcuterie, artisan cheese, imported fish and  olives –  all designed to stave off hunger and mitigate excess wine intake.   On your way out, a sweet little retail section beckons with tasty little take-out bottles at ridiculous retail prices.

But before you exit,  check out owner and oenophile David Butler’s lovingly compiled list of best wine bistros in ParisIt’ll make you want to jump-start your return to the City of Lights someday…with a few stops at Le Caviste for inspiration!


Le Caviste on Urbanspoon

Le Caviste  | 1919 7th Avenue | Seattle, WA 98101 | 206.728.2657

4 to Midnight Tuesday through Saturday

Link here for more  binNotes Urbanspoon Restaurant  Interventions.


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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All images courtesy the author. All Rights Reserved.

Thank you:

David Butler, Owner – Le Caviste | Seattle

Terroirist Tuesday: The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 2

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

Terroirist Tuesday: The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 2

The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 1  here.

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Today’s Terroirist Tuesday: The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 2 spotlights  three (3)  exceptional chocolatiers from Seattle’s 2014 International Chocolate Salon.  These chocolatiers stand out for their passion, drive, and artistry. Here’s their take on the terroir of chocolate, as well as the sweet life of a chocolatier:


Tell readers about your ‘story.’ 

Andrea Torrenzio | Dolcetta Artisan Sweets

“I got into baking after college out of pure love for the craft.  I find it so satisfying to make a product, especially to make something beautiful and delicious that makes people happy….  I’ve always loved eating and baking with chocolate, but was at first intimidated by the tempering process.  I finally decided to tackle that fear and learn to temper and have been dreaming of and creating my business ever since… I’ve been successful as a pastry chef and have a good life, but by the end of 2012, I had ended up in a dark place, really struggling to find any joy or purpose.  At the same time, a friend was diagnosed with advanced cancer, and I felt that I owed it to him to, being lucky enough to be able to do what I want to with my life, to go ahead and live my dream, and create something beautiful and joyful.  It has been at times challenging to get to this point, but every challenge makes me stronger, and I am excited to see what I have created and to see where it will take me.”

Shannon and Christy Fox | Evolve Chocolate Truffles 

“Girl meets girl.

Girl & girl fall in love.

Girl & girl make truffles.

When we started the business three years ago one of our name choices was “girl meets girl”.  But because of the constant evolution of our lives and growth of the company we chose “evolve”.  Stemming from 20+ years in the restaurant industry, Christy who is a formally trained chef along with Shannon found that the bounty of Whatcom County and surrounding areas were truly a muse for creating culinary magic. Each and every truffle produced pays homage to what we believe in, which invokes local collaboration.

Love inspired.

Chef skilled.

Locally sourced.”

Rebecca ‘Becca’ Roebber  |  Kallari Chocolates

“Kallari is one of the only farmer owned and operated chocolate cooperatives, they grow and make their own chocolate from bean to bar…The Kichwa indigenous farmers use heirloom cacao called cacao naccional, which has a fruity and floral notes. They grow the cacao on chakras, which is land interspersed with other medicinal, fruit and hardwood trees…Kallari is made up of 850 farming families that have been able to maintain their way of life due to the production of chocolate. There are no middle men, the farmers are also the chocolatiers.”


As a chocolatier, do you find that the terroir of chocolate – like wine – informs its flavor profiles?  If so, how does that translate into the chocolate grown and used in your chocolates?

“Definitely.  It has been exciting to see so many small batch single origin chocolates come on the market over the last few years.  I have only worked with a few, but I hope to add more to my line.  One that really excites me is Cru Sauvage from Felchlin, foraged wild cacao from the Bolivian Amazon.  It has nice depth and is fruity but not sour.  Of course, the fermentation, roasting, and conching play parts too.  I have had single origin chocolates that I did not enjoy, but then again I’ve had some less-than-great wines, too.  Chocolate is an agricultural product, so of course origin and handling will affect the flavor…I use what I think is delicious.  I think it is good to use a variety of chocolates in order to create the best pairings in the confections. ” – Andrea Torrenzio  | Dolcetta Artisan Sweets

“Yes of course, we trust our supplier for 85% & 45% organic, fair trade, non-GMO, sustainably grown cacao primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Peru.  Because there are no stabilizers added to our chocolate, the subtleties of the terroir changes from batch to batch…Because of the subtle changes in terroir, we use our finely tuned palates to coax those flavor distinctions into a new flavor profile.” -Shannon and Christy Fox | Evolve Chocolate Truffles 

“The soil is one of the main components to the flavor of the bean itself, the richness and biodiversity of the Amazon soil plays a large part in the flavor profile of the finished chocolate bar. It also has to do with fermentation and roasting, similar to the wine making process…The process starts with the fruit, a pulpy sweet and sour juice that surrounds the seed in the pod. Once the pods are ripe and the farmers harvest the seeds they are brought to the fermentation center. There the cacao is fermented for about 7 days in fermentation boxes made from wood. They are then dried under a green house for about two weeks. They are then roasted, winnowed and produced into chocolate all within 3 weeks of harvest. Their chocolate is the freshest in the world, because it is made in the country of origin by the farmers growing it.” -Becca’ Roebber  |  Kallari Chocolate


What makes your chocolate different from other chocolates on the market?

“I really focus on flavor, I aim for clean, well-balanced flavors that you don’t have to search for.  I do enjoy trying chocolate with new and different flavor combinations, but I still want it to be delicious, not just novel.  My chocolates tend to be a little less sweet than others.  I do use some milk and white chocolates, but I balance them with tart flavors like passion fruit or salty bits like pretzels, and most of my bonbons and truffles are molded or made with 60% or higher couverture.” -Andrea Torrenzio | Dolcetta Artisan Sweets

“With both of our backgrounds in the culinary arts, the taste of local ingredients lends a hand to the ultimate sensorial experience.  With truffle making we dance using a blend of local organic spices and bright flavors, using the small batch method.  When we drive to the creamery in Lynden to pick up our cream and swing by the blueberry fields to pick up our blueberries, we are adding to the local terroir of our flavor profiles. Hand-rolled, hand-dipped and hand packaged with an extremely classy touch while keeping our grassroots philosophy.”  -Shannon and Christy Fox -| Evolve Chocolate Truffles 

“Kallari is known for being less astringent than many chocolates, its fruity and floral flavor is complemented by mahogany, passionfruit, cloves and other tropical notes.” -‘Becca’ Roebber  | Kallari Chocolate


Finally,  “If making chocolate has taught me anything, it’s taught me…?”

“Chocolate is a great reminder that there are things you can control and things you can’t.  Sometimes chocolate seems to have a mind of its own, and willing and wishing won’t get it into temper, only stirring and patience will. Also…Sweetness counts!  I love my craft, but I also find it a little bit silly.  Spreading joy through high-end handcrafted confections is great, but I also feel strongly that everyone should have basic sustenance.  I’ve given 10% of my sales to the local organization Food Lifeline since I started selling in 2010.  I’ll continue to give to them and other worthy causes.” -Andrea Torrenzio  | Dolcetta Artisan Sweets

“Making chocolate truffles has taught us to treat each batch as if it’s a living organism, kind of like a child or something you are giving life to.  Appreciation of life, love, local and what’s good has been our main agenda.” -Shannon and Christy Fox | Evolve Chocolate Truffles 

“Making chocolate is an art. Every year, like wine, yields different notes based on many factors, such as climate. Chocolate that tastes simply like chocolate has been over processed, often masked by sugar and milk.  Tasting chocolate is a journey of flavors that all start at the source. This sensitive bean needs so much care and love to taste as fine as single origin, craft chocolate. Once your taste buds have had the experience of both, your world will change.” - Becca’ Roebber  | Kallari Chocolate


The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 1


Thank you:

Seattle Chocolate Salon

Andrea Terrenzio |  Dolcetta Artisan Sweets

Shannon and Christy Fox |  Evolve Truffles

Becca Roebber | Kallari Chocolates



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. 

Terroirist Tuesday: The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 1

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog. 

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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I attended Seattle’s 2014 International Chocolate Salon with one simple question for chocolatiers:

‘Does terroir inform the character of chocolate, as it does wine?’

The resounding answer? Yes, it does. Like Burgundy’s wine subregions, chocolate’s growing regions and microclimates vary, and these variations inform the flavor profiles of the finished product. More on this next week in Terroirist Tuesday: The Terroir of Chocolate - Part 2.

In the meantime, enjoy  binNotes’ favorite tasting notes from Seattle Chocolate Salon 2014:

Perfume and Chocolate

I didn’t get it at first. A gauntlet of hand-crafted fine fragrances bank the walls leading into the Chocolate Salon. I thought this event was about chocolate? After sampling the perfume, however, I got it. Both chocolate and fragrance creation involve the custom-blending of exotic ingredients – resulting in end products that delight the senses. So it does makes sense, no pun intended.

binNotes personal fave: Pamplemousse*, by Sweet Tea Apothecary crafts ‘Historically Inspired Perfumes’ such as Dead Writers, Pemberly, and La Reine Antoinette. *Note: Owner and perfumer JT Siems shares that Pamplemousse is the number one seller in Seattle – a blend of Ginger, bamboo, white tea, saffron, grapefruit and honey.

Chocolate For All Diets

  • Smitten artisan truffles offer a lactose-free way to indulge with flavors like Vanilla Carmel and Tahitian Vanilla Bean Sea Salt. Chocolatier Vanessa Holden and her husband Otho Bel design their chocolates to pair well with wine, pinot especially…gotta love ‘em!
  • Chocolatier Andrea Terrenzio’s Dolcetta Artisan Sweets provides gluten-free hazelnut truffles. And 10% of all profits go to feed people in need – a sweet treat all around.
  • Gusto Chocolates, the savory side of Forte Chocolates, mixes it up with combos like Bacon and Dark Chocolate or Rosemary and Sea Salt White chocolate bars…perfect with wine!


Wine…and Beer…and Chocolate


Indigenously Sourced Chocolates

Amano Artisan Chocolates sources their flavorful chocolates from diverse microclimates throughout remote regions of Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea.

binNotes’ personal fave: Dos Rios Dark 70% Chocolate bar, from rare Dominican Republic beans. Hints of lavender and bergamot, which chocolatier Aaron Davidson confirms reflects the surrounding vegetation.

Kallari Chocolates represents the only farmer-owned chocolatier attending the 2014 Seattle Chocolate Salon. Kallari sources from the Kichwa tribe of Ecuador in the Amazon Rain Forest.

binNotes’ personal fave: Sacha 60% cacao and coffee bean chocolate bar.


Thanks to  Seattle Chocolate Salon – see you back here next Terroirist Tuesday for Part 2: The Terroir of Chocolate.



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