Valentine’s Day prep part one: Tasting chocolate

After I heard the words “chocolate tasting,” it was not hard to decide to interview Blair Potts at his shop at The Foundry on Cedar Street. Getting to wear the baker’s hat and jacket were just a bonus.

Potts Chocolate is new to Charlotte, but not to the chocolate business. Blair and his wife made the intentional decision to move their 6-year-old business from rural Virginia to Charlotte after they were blown away by their visit to uptown.

Blair describes what tasting a specialty chocolate should be like: “Hold it on your palate for a few seconds because good chocolate, like red wine, has a lot of volatiles. You get a better idea of the chocolate’s complexity.”

Blair is a self-taught chocolatier and businessman with a background in micro-breweries and restaurant management. His desire “to do interesting things” is evident in his hand-made chocolate, confections and vanilla extract.

The tasting

I tried five chocolates. My favorites were Breezies and Salted Caramel, but I would gladly take a box of any and all.

  • Classic Truffles – made with a Madagascar cacao with strong hint of raspberry or dark currant.
  • Espressos – made with Venezuelan cacao and coffee beans from Pure Intentions Coffee.
  • Breezies – made with Peruvian cacao, hazelnuts and blend of chocolate and vanilla sugar.
  • Jamaican – made with Jamaican cacao with rum and dark fruit flavors with butter ganache and dark chocolate.
  • Salted Caramel – made with sourwood honey from the Appalachians, Tahitian vanilla extract, European butter, Madagascar cacao, fleur de sel (sea salt).
Photo 2 Credit Vanessa

Chocolate explained

I am not a connoisseur of chocolate so it was important for me to understand the words Blair used:

– Cacao v Cocoa. Blair says, “Usually when I say ‘cacao,’ I mean the raw bean. When I say ‘cocoa,’ I am talking about the whole basic idea of chocolate. They are pretty much interchangeable.”

– Gianduja (jon-DOO-ya). More than just a fun word to say, it is a traditional Italian confection. Take roasted ground hazelnuts and combine with chocolate and Tahitian-flavored vanilla.

– Fruity flavors. I did ask if fruits were added to the chocolate to get the fruity taste. Blair explained that the flavor comes from the cacao bean. Fruit is not added. Like wine grapes, different cacao has different characteristics. The region where cacao is produced creates the unique and distinctive flavors.

Photo 3 Credit Vanessa

Where to buy

Potts Chocolate Shop

Of course Potts Chocolate is readying for that special day in February. Normally, the shop is only available by appointment, but the week of Valentine’s Day, it will open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Assorted boxes will be available featuring their five chocolates and a special Valentine’s Truffle.

Order Online

Potts Chocolate offers Monthly Truffle Clubs that may be shipped anywhere. So no excuses if your Valentine lives across the country.

Mint Museum Uptown Gift Shop

Stop by the gift shop to purchase a four- or 16-piece box of chocolates.

Get your chocolate fix with events

Coffee & Chocolate Pairings with Skill Pop and Pure Intentions Coffee

Date: Thursday, Feb. 11

Time: ​6-8 p.m.

Location: ​The Daily Details, Duke Energy Building, 550 S. Tryon Street, Suite 110

Tickets: Yes

Sweet SoireeWine, Chocolate and Art with Sozo Gallery featuring artist Mary Rousseaux and chocolatier Blair Potts.

Date: Friday, Feb. 12

Time: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Location: Hearst Tower Plaza

Tickets: Yes

Private Tasting Parties

Potts Chocolate will set up a private tasting for a corporate event or social gathering. Contact Blair Potts for information about pricing.

Photos: Vanessa Infanzon