Sambirano looks better than most Dagoba wares, flaunting an unflawed and even surface with a color that for a 65% Madagascan seems remarkably dark, even for Dagoba. A lack of sheen for sure contributes to the brooding nature of the bar, and certainly the aroma doesnâ€™t help the matter. Itâ€™s definitely dark, composed of coffee and a date-like spiciness over blueberries and plums, suggesting a â€œredâ€ (albeit mild) acidity in what has been implied so far as a deep, dark flavor. This is clearly not a light chocolate.
The flavor proves to be quite dark and strong, powerfully shoving coffee to the fore, then dates for a primary theme that practically screams a darker roast. Plums and blueberries then add some fruity variation to this darkness, and then a raspberry acidity similar to Manjari gets center stage for quite a while. This turns into plums for the last and perhaps too protracted taste before the chocolate ends on the same assertive coffee tone that opened it. As fruity as this chocolate is, however, these flavors are fairly weak, as if they were shoved in the background rather than being subtle components of the actual cacao.
As one might not expect for a Madagascan, the texture is anything but smooth and creamy. Itâ€™s grainy and slightly dry, more evocative of dry earth rather than refined chocolate; but then again, this is Trinitario, not Criollo, and more to the point, a Dagoba bar. The bar as a whole seems to contain less liveliness, a darker nature, and a more linear profile, yet at the same time more roundness and â€œrichness,â€ so much in fact that one will inevitably wonder if Dagoba was just too efficient at bringing out the darker elements of the chocolate. It is indeed a substantive chocolate, one that does not particularly reinforce the fruity underpinnings of the origin, yet when the Madagascan turf is so extensively crowded, how many more look-alikes do we honestly need?