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Valrhona - a reputation for quality

Valrhona was one of the first fine chocolate makers to penetrate the UK market with its high quality chocolate, particularly aimed at the professional trade with it’s range of couvertures, perfected for pastry chefs. Fine chocolate up until this point was almost unheard of in the UK and certainly not readably available on the high street. During its growing popularity Valrhona launched many new products appealing to non professionals and today has a wide range of fine chocolates and a longstanding reputation for quality.

A French chocolate

Valrhona is a French chocolate manufacturer based in the small town of Tain L'Hermitage in Hermitage, a wine-growing district near Lyon. The company was founded in 1922 by Monsieur Guironnet, an enterprising French pastry chef from the Rhône valley who opened La Chocolaterie du Vivarais, his first chocolate factory.

History of Valrhona

In 1939 messieurs Bourget and Gonnet bought Guironnet’s chocolate factory on his death and renamed it Etablissements Gonnet, after Albert Gonnet, master confectioner and the company’s new director. He is quickly joined by his son-in-law, Louis Gelet and then by Guy de Loisy, son in law of Bourgeat.

  • The company was renamed Gonnet-deLoisy after the death of Albert Gonnet.
  • The trademark of Valrhona was first adopted at the beginning of the 1960’s
  • In 1975 Luois Gelet retired and Guy de Loisy is succeeded by his son, Oliver.
  • In 1984 the company was bought by a family-owned French group.
  • From 1985 – 1988 the company launched the “carres” in their black box and the Equicnoxe.

Valrhona today

Each year Valrhona created new chocolates and particularly couvertures, the main part of Valrhona’s business to the professional industry.

Valrhona is today one of the leading producers of high-quality chocolate in the world with 5 subsidiaries and 60 local distributors across the globe.. The company also maintains the Ecole du Grand Chocolat, a school for professional chefs with a focus on chocolate-based dishes and pastries. To make superior chocolate, only the best cocoa will do.

For many years:

  • Valrhona has been working to seek out, identify and select the best varieties of cocoa tree in all the regions of the world.
  • Building partnerships with planters in carefully selected cocoa-producing countries.
  • Creating new plantations where it grows rare species - some of which were in danger of extinction.

The Way it Works

In a space of two years Valrhon’s buyer can review around 80 cocoa plantations in 22 countries. Working direct with producers rather than dealing with wholesale markets and dealers. Working direct with the growers also ensures quality and maintains checks on growing conditions and methods of harvesting, fermenting and drying of the cocoa.

From the plantation to Valrhona

The cocoa beans, once dried, should be stored on the plantation for a limited time only. The beans are examined before shipment and properly packed into appropriate ventilated containers.

Upon arrival at Valrhona’s factory, the cocoa beans receive a painstaking inspection for the following purposes:

  • Detect off-odours and eventual off-flavours
  • Check for the presence of foreign bodies
  • To verify the moisture content
  • Ensure all Valrhona’s specifications have been met
  • Once in storage the jute sacks of cocoa beans are probed with a sampling iron to extract sufficient beans for a triple qualitative analysis:
  • A certain number of beans are cut-test in search of specific faults such as mould or insect damage, evidence of germination, excessive flatness.
  • A percentage of hole beans are roasted and smelled.
  • A small quantity of roasted beans are made up as chocolate tasting-sample for the in-house experts of Valrhona’s “cacaotheque”, who judge each single-origin specimen for both flavour and conformity to the standard expected from the cocoa of the designated source.

On the basis of these three criteria will be decided the acceptability- or not- of each consignment of cocoa beans to Valrhona.

The storage of accepted shipments of cocoa beans are then held under clean, dry, insect free conditions at a temperature of about 16ºC. They are classified by flavour.

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By The Chocolate Traveller

Chocolate Trading Company

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