Naïve Berries 65% 87/100

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This bar might be more about the inclusion than it is about the origin of the cocoa beans with Naïve chocolate professing a love for berries. An excerpt from Naïve’s packaging – 1) Strawberries. June is strawberry time. Wild or domesticated, small or big – we like to eat them all and in huge amounts. Tiny wild strawberries have a bitter taste but are nevertheless delicious. Garden strawberries are just pure flavour joy. 2) Blueberries. Blue bubbles hidden among the moss. They usually show up in the mid summer. Hard to collect, easy to overeat. We love how they colour your teeth and tongue. 3) Currants. Red, white and black. Second part of the summer. Some are sour and some are sweet. We always prefer blackcurrants as they are so easy to pick. They taste like…hmm…let us just say that the taste is clever! Once these ingredients have been harvested they are taken to Naïve’s chocolate factory on the outskirts of Vilnius where Domantas Užpalis turns them into one of Naïve’s chocolate bars.

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I love berries, if I’m particularly honest, but I usually enjoy them in relation to chocolate through Madagascan bars, Vietnamese bars or through the occasional South American variety that develops the necessary acidity. Here we have a showcase of berries in or with chocolate though, not that that’s bad thing, these flavours clearly go together. My hope is that this bar expresses these flavours honestly and offers a balance and refinement with the chocolate. Opening the bar there’s some quality chocolate work to produce a very consistent slab, which I’m starting to see as a hallmark of Naïve’s bars. Breaking off a piece, there’s a strong aroma of berries and roast of a sweet and acidic nature. Placing a piece in my mouth there’s a syrupy smooth mouthfeel that develops the pleasurably viscous feel of clotted cream. To taste this bar has some pleasant qualities, just not as many pleasant qualities as Naïve’s Nicaliso or Porcini bars. There’s a flavourful and apparent acidity only it lacks refinement and balance, there’s a developed sweetness and the mouthfeel is of noticeable quality, but combined together they appear more as confectionary than they do as simple honest fruit. There’s the good flavour you can expect to find from berries here, but there not the most refined or balanced set of flavours that could be expressed. A decent finish helps to make the bar increasingly moreish and there is enough dimension of flavour to keep going back, but I can’t help but feel that porcini offers the better of the two inclusions. Naïve describe the bar as ‘A true Summer flashback’ and in fairness this bar does offer a ray of summery sunshine with its light and bright nature, best enjoyed when pining for sunnier times.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, pure cocoa butter, freeze dried berries 5% (strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants), sunflower lecithin

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium milky brown
Texture: Smooth
Mould: Embossed Naïve unicycle slab
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Consistent matte

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Notes: Berries, roast
Quality: Acidic, sweet, deep

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Syrupy, smooth, clotted cream
Quality: Light, dense, viscous

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Berry
Quality: Lightly tart

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Strawberry sweets, red liquorice, fruit juice
Quality: Developed, confectionary

Flavour 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet
Notes: Berries, sour milk, strawberries, blackcurrants, vanilla cream
Quality: Fruity, confectionary

Length 8.5/10

Acidity has length when it appears, but other flavours feel like they stop a little short, round is a little uneven

Finish 9/10

Notes: Berries, cream
Quality: Berry acidity and flavours fill the end with a lingering creamy sensation staying on long after the finish

Balance 8.5/10

Smooth creamy nature provides some balance, but acidity is unpredictable and levels feel a little unequal, structure is a little weak for encouraging stability

Overall 8.5/10

Bar has some depth and dimension of flavour, minor complexities aren’t overly balanced, structure is consistent while a little weak, expression is honest of inclusion but lacks clarity, processing provides creamy backbone

Naïve’s Tasting Notes: A true Summer flashback: words, which best describe this chocolate bar

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