Sainsbury’s Dominican Republic 70% 87/100

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This bar is made with fairtrade beans from the Cibao Valley in the Dominican Republic. Once harvested they’re shipped to be manufactured in Germany, before being retailed by Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd.

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I’ve eaten this bar many times before and so I’m well aware of what to expect in terms of its flavour. I eat a lot of chocolate and that goes beyond the bars I review here and so I tend to think of the bars that I review here as craft chocolate and a bar like this as every day chocolate, as food or an ingredient rather than an experience of a particular terroir. This bar however, manages to fall somewhere in between. In general the cocoa from the Dominican Republic brings with it an earthy dark cocoa base with the opportunity for red fruit notes and a fairly low acidity. This bar in particular offers something lighter, sweeter and more dominantly fruity and acidic, it’s expressive in a way that some other Dominican Republic cocoa isn’t. With that said, it does maintain some of the hallmarks of mass produced or supermarket chocolate, it expresses the attributes of industrially processed chocolate, such as high refining, the addition of cocoa butter to soften the bar, less careful development of flavour and less honesty in its expression of terroir. But, in terms of a supermarket chocolate it is probably one of the best at being flavourful and expressive of its origin despite this. Opening the bar I’m presented with the usual quality industrial chocolate work you would expect, glossy surface, crisp snap and an almost smooth soft fudgey texture. Breaking a piece off reveals milky aromas of cocoa, almonds and a strong offering of Turkish delight, it’s a pleasant aroma but it is somewhat confectionary like. Placing a piece in my mouth reveals an overly refined texture of creamy and buttery tones that’s smooth and full, but also what you would expect from industrial production. To taste the bar is very expressive and intense, presenting red berry flavours and notes of Turkish delight mixed in with cream and almonds to balance the fruit out. There are some nods to the kind of strawberry and raspberry syrup they drizzle over your seaside ice creams, but this fruity nature is significantly more expressive than the overroasted bitter tones of most industrially produced dark cocoa. The balance, length and finish are all tending in a positive direction and overall this bar has plenty of positives. I feel that if you compare this bar to craft chocolate it is going to fall short, but equally if you compare it to other industrially produced chocolate then it starts to look a lot better and this becomes important because of its price point in relation to its competition. In the end if you like big bold fruit flavours then this is a great starting point for a transition into single origin chocolate and it can be a great accompaniment to some particularly individual and exciting craft chocolate bars. Best enjoyed alongside sweet white wines or dry sparkling rose.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium milky brown
Texture: Soft fudge
Mould: 5 x 2 fleur de lis print
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Notes: Sweet milky cocoa, almond milk, rose Turkish delight
Quality: Sweet, confectionary, distinctive

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Creamy, buttery, smooth
Quality: Refined, viscous, full

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Red berries, soft raspberry, Turkish delight
Quality: Fruity, bright, balanced

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Notes: Berry syrup, Turkish delight
Quality: Bright, confectionary

Flavour 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet
Notes: Almond, cocoa, red berries, rose, cream
Quality: Bold, deep

Length 9/10

Flavours are bold and long, rounding softly with peaks of fruity acidity

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Red berries, cream, almond
Quality: Red berry fruit and cream combine to fill the end leading up to an almondy finish which leaves lingering acidic tones and hints of confectionary like flavours

Balance 8.5/10

Given the bold fruity acidic and confectionary tones of this bar it has a surprising amount of complementary balance, with attributes amalgamating well, medium structure provides some stability

Overall 8.5/10

Bar has depth of flavour and while there is some dimension to the flavour the dimension is not refined, small amounts of complexity are fairly well balanced, structure is consistent although a little wavering, expression seems distinctive and individual but processing has a large footprint here providing smooth and creamy mouthfeel and somewhat forced development of fruity acidic attributes


Sainsbury’s Tasting Notes: This intense, bittersweet dark chocolate from the Dominican Republic’s Cibao Valley offers hints of red wine and berry flavours.

 

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