Hotel Chocolat Rabot Estate 66% Review

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Hotel Chocolat Rabot Estate 66% purist bar[updated with corrected information] The Rabot Estate that Hotel Chocolate runs is a chocolate success story.  Taking trees of varying strains and creating a new one, Hotel Chocolat have really tried hard to not only create excellence in mass market chocolate, they have also sought to improve the strains available for breeding (apparently not – they aren’t trying to improve the strain through cross-breeding – just selectively breeding trinitario). It’s obviously a labour of love for all involved, including Angus who helped found Hotel Chocolat and still attends many chocolate events.

This bar is an interesting one.  66% keeps it slightly sweeter and less overpowering than other bars and it has a moderately fast melt but it also stops people who are intimidated by the ‘dark’ from avoiding this bar. Too many consumers currently relate 70% to bitter, burned chocolate beans and the awful chocolate created from them whereas in reality something like a Hotel Chocolat 70%,  Duffy’s 72%, a Soma 70% and others  can be an absolute joy.

This 66% from the Rabot Estate, however, is more than just a bar to help those afraid of the dark ‘cross over’. This bar showcases the work HC have done in creating their new strain single type of cocoa beans. This is a unique bar and a unique opportunity to taste something new and I was excited to give it a whirl. I was willing to abandon my beloved red fruits and acid for something different. What would it be like? Would it be Hershey’s or something new? What had they created – Frankenstein?

Hotel Chocolat Rabot Estate 66%Well, this isn’t really too far off what I enjoy in a flavour profile.  You’ve got this initial blast of figs as you both open the bar and place the first piece in your mouth.  As you let it melt on your tongue (quickly – not as fast as Duffys but not as reluctantly as others) you then a gently roasted chocolate flavour coming through then mellowing into something with a tinge of raisins.

All in all this genetically modified (they did cross breed which technically means this is not a pure strain making it genetically modified – just not in the splicing fish DNA with tomato DNA sense 😉 ) new cocoa tree strain has produced some fine and unique beans that Hotel Chocolate has sympathetically treated. They have created a delicious dark chocolate that would balance well with a nice deep red wine, probably a syrah.  I’d say, give it a try if you’re ordering chocolate online from them – or in a shop 😀

[UPDATED – response to Hotel Chocolat – apparently I mis-understood what I read about their breeding program]

The genotype of the cocoa on Rabot Estate is Trinitario, this has been proven by a detailed DNA analysis carried out by experts at Reading University Plant Science Division.
This cocoa has been traced back to the original ICS 100 selection, defined as the 100 best Trinitarios by an expert named Mr Pound in the 1930s
During the course of our research during the last 6 years, we have been identifying the key taste attributes for each genotype of Trinitario and the key influence of the “Terrior” which Rabot Estate has 16 named areas or “Cotes”

We select the very best cocoa trees to give the potential “tasting notes” that Angus and his team of chocolatiers require.
Obviously, there are a lot of stages, from Harvesting just at the right time, the fermentation and drying process that all have an effect on the beans potential, lastly, the skills of the chocolatiers to release the inherent “flavour profile” of the seasons beans.

Due to being one of the few chocolate companies to be in control of the “Tree to Bean” has allowed us to gain the knowledge to develop our cocoa genebank.

The selected cocoa trees by genotype, are “grafted” using bud-wood from the doner tree onto a suitable root-stock seedling.
This is the same method as used by fruit tree growers.
Thereafter, the grafted tree will be a complete replica of the doner tree.

These grafted trees can be commonly called “clones” but the word is misleading.
There is no genetical engineering at all, simply a graft from a doner tree.

Our nursery programme is to reproduce the very best cocoa trees and to save these genotype of Trinitarios for future generations.
Also, to re-plant the Rabot Estate and supply the 100s of local farmer growers who have joined our scheme.

It maybe in the future, once our research is at a stage to allow, then we might consider developing new hibrids of Trinitario, but not yet.

Thank you to Philip Buckley Estates Director and Country Head in St Lucia for Hotel Chocolat who corrected my mis-understanding of what I had read about the selective breeding program so I could correct this post.

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About Judith Lewis

Editor and chief blogger at Mostly About Chocolate. Expert SEO. Judge at the Academy of Chocolate Awards, International Chocolate Awards and UK Search Awards.

One Response to Hotel Chocolat Rabot Estate 66% Review

  1. phil buckley says:

    Good day Judith
    To introduce myself, I am the Estates Director and Country Head in St Lucia for Hotel Chocolat.
    I have been responsible for the development of the Rabot Estate during the past 6 years.
    My reason for contacting you is to firstly say “thankyou” for your very positive review of our 66% Rabot Estate bar, it is very pleasing to know that our efforts in developing the Rabot Estate Cocoa is well received.

    Secondary though, I have noticed a few points mentioned regarding the genology which are inaccurate and I hope you permit me to correct and explain in more detail.

    The genotype of the cocoa on Rabot Estate is Trinitario, this has been proven by a detailed DNA analysis carried out by experts at Reading University Plant Science Division.
    This cocoa has been traced back to the original ICS 100 selection, defined as the 100 best Trinitarios by an expert named Mr Pound in the 1930s
    During the course of our research during the last 6 years, we have been identifying the key taste attributes for each genotype of Trinitario and the key influence of the “Terroir” which Rabot Estate has 16 named areas or “Cotes”

    We select the very best cocoa trees to give the potential “tasting notes” that Angus and his team of chocolatiers require.
    Obviously, there are a lot of stages, from harvesting just at the right time, the fermentation and drying process that all have an effect on the beans potential, lastly, the skills of the chocolatiers to release the inherent “flavour profile” of the season’s beans.

    Due to being one of the few chocolate companies to be in control of the “Tree to Bean” has allowed us to gain the knowledge to develop our cocoa genebank.

    The selected cocoa trees by genotype, are “grafted” using bud-wood from the donor tree onto a suitable root-stock seedling.
    This is the same method as used by fruit tree growers for generations.
    Thereafter, the grafted tree will be a complete replica of the donor tree.

    These grafted trees can be commonly called “clones” but the word is misleading.
    There is no genetical engineering at all, simply a graft from a donor tree.

    Our nursery programme is to reproduce the very best cocoa trees and to save these rare genotypes of Trinitarios for future generations.
    Also, to re-plant the Rabot Estate and supply the 100s of local farmer growers who have joined our Engaged Ethics scheme.

    It maybe in the future, once our research is at a stage to allow, that we might consider developing new hybrids of Trinitario, but not yet.

    I hope the above explanation provides you with the correct background information regarding the Rabot Estate cocoa
    I hope you will appreciate my message, perhaps we might even meet in the future, I am sure that a visit to the Rabot Estate would be a wonderful experience for someone with your interests and knowledge.

    If you would ever like any further information, please feel free to contact myself direct.

    Very best regards

    Philip S. Buckley.
    Estates Director
    Hotel Chocolat Estates Ltd [St.Lucia] West Indies

    email:philbuckley.hotelchocolat@karibcable.com
    Tel:[Plantation-Office] 001 – 758 – 457 1629
    Tel:[Hotel Reception] 001 – 758 – 457 1624
    Mobile: 001 – 758 – 724 – 6180
    Fax: 001 – 758 – 457 1630

    Hotel Chocolat Estates Ltd [St.Lucia]
    The Rabot Estate, PO Box 312,
    Soufriere,
    St.Lucia, West Indies