These Arriba Nacional cocoa beans come from west central Ecuador from the banks of the Vinces River in the region of Los Rios. Once harvested they’re shipped to Berlin where Rausch Schokolade turn them into one of their chocolate bars, before rebranding them as J. D. Gross for Lidl.
I’ve tried cocoa from the Los Rios region of Ecuador before and so far to my mind it tends to express mainly archetypal chocolate notes, but with a little finesse and quality. I suspect Ecuador has been chosen as the 70% chocolate for this range to exhibit an archetypally chocolate flavoured bar and some accessibility, with it also being used for the inclusion bars. I would expect that the chocolate has been chosen to set an even tone for the inclusions to present themselves more clearly. I’m hoping the chocolate offers a refined nature and that the raspberries offer and honest flavour while remaining balanced with the cocoa. Opening the packaging the size of the bar is a little overwhelming, with rather large J.D. Gross squares, still the chocolate work looks like good industrial processing, with the colour a little darker than I’d expected even at 70%. Breaking off a piece reveals intensely perfumed aromas of sweet raspberries, although worryingly a little synthetic. Placing a piece in my mouth there’s a creamy but slick mouthfeel which makes its way to a chewy inclusion finish. To taste, well, the problem here isn’t really the chocolate, for the most part that presents itself as smooth and archetypal with notes of chocolate fudge making themselves known over the course of the melt, the problem is the inclusion. There’s a raspberry flavour, but it’s reminiscent of raspberry sweets or the kind of raspberry syrup used on seaside ice creams. This flavour comes to dominate the bar and while the cocoa tries to provide balance and bitter contrast, its unable to provide balance or a complementary tone. The lack of honesty in the raspberries and their dominant role in the flavour, sweetness and acidity of this bar are the means by which this bar fails, all positives here are as a result of the chocolate itself, which attempts to provide quality in terms of flavour and cocoa expression. This one’s probably best left on the shelf, with the hope that the Ecuador 70% with no inclusions fairs much better.
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, glucose-fructose syrup, rice flour, concentrated raspberry puree, emulsifier: sunflower lecithin, palm oil, rice starch, thickener: pectins, natural flavouring, concentrated carrot juice, citrus fibres, vanilla extract
Colour: Dark brown
Texture: Smooth, light flake and inclusion
Mould: 5 x 2 large JD Gross squares
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte, consistent
Notes: Sweet raspberry
Quality: Perfumed, lightly synthetic, bright
Evenness: Fairly even
Texture: Creamy, slick, chewy inclusion
Quality: Full, processed
Quality: Uneven, synthetic
Notes: Raspberry syrup, chocolate fudge, rice
Quality: Synthetic, unusual
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Raspberry syrup, bitter cocoa, chocolate fudge, cream, rice
Quality: Synthetic, creamy
Flavours are mid length, fluctuating between cocoa and inclusion without proper round
Notes: Rice, raspberry syrup, chocolate fudge
Quality: Savoury notes of rice make their way in at the back end of the bar before raspberry syrup on the finish, with lingering chocolate fudge notes
Chocolate seems fairly smooth and balanced but inclusion provides instability which isn’t matched, balanced or complemented much by chocolate, medium structure attempts at providing some stability
Bar has some depth, but lacks dimension, simple and synthetic flavours miscue balance, structure is consistent, expression is true of processing and inclusion only with smooth chocolate heavily stamped on by inclusion.
J. D. Gross’s Tasting Notes: Arriba chocolate is crafted from cocoa beans grown on specially selected plantations in the Ecuadorian province of Los Rios. The lush tropical climate together with the finest ingredients, and our wealth of experience accrued over generations, make J. D. Gross dark chocolate a truly premium delight. Indulge yourself with the subtle blend of rich chocolate and fragrant raspberry.