J. D. Gross Ecuador 70% 86/100

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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.

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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 archetypal chocolate flavours and some accessibility, with it also being used for the inclusion bars. My expectation is that this bar should present itself with flavours of cocoa and caramel and hopefully with good balanced and a refined nature. 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 on the darker side. Breaking off a piece reveals earthy cocoa aromas smoothed over with some cream, simple but pleasant. Placing a piece in my mouth starts a fudgey and full mouthfeel reminiscent of chocolate fudge cake that ends up a little syrupy and slick. To taste the bar is archetypal chocolate notes tending towards a darker tone, there’s dominant chocolate fudge notes and darker sugars that represent themselves in flavours familiar in bourbon biscuits. This bar is simple and its flavour profile is archetypal, basic even, but it does a good job of expressing chocolatey flavours in an approachable and somewhat refined manner. This is chocolate, how it should taste without reservation, it’s fine flavoured, it’s just not indicative of an individually expressive and distinctive origin. A good length and balance make this bar all the more enjoyable and give it the rounding of attributes required to make it worthy of returning to. If you like chocolate to taste like chocolate and are looking at the lower end of the price spectrum for single origin chocolate, this offers very little to be negative about. Enjoy with complementary fruits, or in unusual ingredient combinations like with cauliflower, take advantage of its archetypal and neutral palate.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier; sunflower lecithin, vanilla extract

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Darker brown
Texture: Smooth, light flake
Mould: 5 x 2 large JD Gross squares
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte, consistent

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Refined earthy cocoa, baking cocoa, cream
Quality: Simple, soft, metallic

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Fudge, syrupy, slick
Quality: Full, consistent

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Date
Quality: Dark, sweet, rounding

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Demerara sugar, dried dates
Quality: Dark, developed, balanced

Flavour 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Cocoa, chocolate fudge cake, double cream, bourbon biscuits
Quality: Simple, refined

Length 9/10

Flavours are long rounding on peaks of mild acidity

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Cocoa, cream
Quality: End is filled with sweet cocoa notes and swirls of cream before a mellow cocoa finish that subtly lingers on for a while. 

Balance 9/10

Bar is fairly simple but attributes balance well with sweetness and acidity aiding roundedness of flavour, medium to strong structure provides anchoring and stability

Overall 8.5/10

Bar has some depth, but lacks dimension, simplicity is easily balanced, structure is consistent and expression is as true of origin as it of processing, flavour is true of origin but, mouthfeel, smoothness and some sweetness have been added by processing.


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, a region with some of the highest rainfall in the world. This 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.

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