While tasting a line-up of Izard Chocolate recently, I found myself relating each single origin chocolate bar to different wines. Often, most of us chocolate 'aficionados' think of chocolate tasting as similar to wine tasting. But in this case, I was actually relating each chocolate bar to a specific type of wine. I don't quite know why, but that's just what came to mind.
For instance, Izard's Belize 70% dark chocolate bar was sweetly fruity, with a little cocoa-flavoured bitterness. It had that sort of rounded, fill-your-mouth-purple-grape-juice fruit flavour, that made me think of a Merlot. Of course, there was some cherry and other fruity flavours as well, which overall made me think of a kids' juice box full of bold grape-cherry flavours. It was fruity and sweet and likable in that general way that a Merlot attracts a sweet-tooth wine lover. So suddenly, that was all I could see when I looked at Izard's Belize bar: it is the Merlot of chocolate.
Then when I tasted Izard's 70% Dominican Republic chocolate bar, it was so enjoyable that it made me think of a slightly bitter and bold Shiraz. Every dark chocolate lover could enjoy this chocolate bar. That's what Shiraz is: the wine that you pull out for a mixed group of people who are planning to drink a lot of wine that evening. Everyone will have a good time drinking it. No one will be disappointed. The lovely notes of plum in this chocolate are complemented by a bitter and lightly acidic overtone that states: this was made from truly flavourful cacao. I quite liked this chocolate bar.
Finally, Izard's 'Chimelb Microlot' 72% dark Guatemala-origin chocolate was harshly acidic, and yet slightly fruity. The chocolate maker's tasting notes mentioned pineapple, but I'd say it was more like that strong acidity of under-ripened pineapple that was nearly a turn-off, but I just kept going back for more and don't know why. The hint of vanilla bean that Izard has added to it certainly tamed it, but yet it was still wild, and bold, and somewhat shocking. So perhaps the shock to my taste buds is just so unlike anything else experienced all week, is why I need more tastings to figure it out.
Before I knew it, I'd eaten the whole bar and still not understood quite what the flavour was. So naturally, I'll need another one someday, because maybe then I'll fully understand it. This reminded me of some bitter and slightly harsh Tempranillo, or perhaps an acidic Old Vine Zinfandel. I always need to try it again, to truly understand it (certainly that is my only reason for wanting more wine, right?).
When all was said and done, I suppose it was that first taste of Izard's fruity Belize chocolate, which made me think of a Merlot, and got the wheels in my mind turning about wine and chocolate. Or perhaps Izard's chocolate is just a great line-up for the wine-and-chocolate-lover's of the world. Next time that I taste Izard Chocolate, I plan to do some wine pairing with it.
And as for the chocolate (in case you couldn't tell when I related it to my favourite drink), I really liked it. All of it. :-)
I learned about Izard Craft Chocolate thanks to a conversation with the owner of Montreal-based Chocexchange, an online marketplace for bean-to-bar, artisan-made chocolate. You can find Izard in Little Rock, Arkansas, or buy the chocolate online through Chocexchange.com. Learn more about Izard Chocolate and other locations where you can buy their bean-to-bar chocolate at: www.izardchocolate.com.