Sliding the bar from its wax paper reveals a very urbane and sleek surface, showing excellent sheen and slight bubbling, a scheme that for an in-country producer rivals the best of any European. Another surprise is the red (not purple) color, and an aroma that hints at poor processing and/or bad beans. Sour grapes, mild ash, and a strong undertone of woody cinnamon comprise the first, second, and third wafts, and breathing doesnâ€™t help the matter either.
The flavor, however, does not offend too much, except for a tannic sourness that quickly dissipates, then leads to spice, wood, and coffee, with grapes eventually adding fruitiness. Sweet spice resurges to finish off the length in a comforting, holiday feel-good sort of way that emphasizes nutmeg. Itâ€™s certainly easy to eat, a â€œmoreishâ€ chocolate in every way, but herein lies the chocolate’s most damaging problem: no intensity.
The chocolate is totally devoid of intensity and comes off as excessively flat and subtle, disappointingly so despite the warm flavor which if were strengthened could be truly awesome. Excessive cocoa butter may be reasoned out since the bar is â€œonlyâ€ 40% fat and therefore suggestive of liberal conching. Whatever the cause, though, something is dreadfully amiss in Ecuador. Is poor processing the culprit, or are the beans so mild and problematic so as to render a similarly flawed flavor? As it stands, there really isnâ€™t reason to return to this chocolate once the first bar is gone.