Saturday, 18 September 2010

Vietnamese Dark Chocolate from the Ben Tre Estate

Chocolate from Vietnam? You have to be joking! I'm immediately sceptical about the quality of this bar and I haven't even taken it out of the packet. Surely only good chocolate can come from Peru, Venezuela and the like? Vietnam decided to grow cocoa as a commercial crop soon after the coffee price crash in the 1990s, which sent the farming industry into financial chaos.

To locate Ben Tre go to Google Maps and you'll find it just below Ho Chi Minh City. I had hoped that there would be more information on his website about the estate.


You'll also be surprised to know that both the plain and the milk versions won three-star gold medals at the 2010 Great Taste Awards. 

Demarquette - Fine Chocolates is a family run business developed and started in 2005 by British Born master chocolatier Marc Demarquette who specializes in the artisan production of fine chocolates. Marc Demarquette is passionate about chocolate and has very high standards when it comes to sourcing products. According to his website their cocoa butter is a traceable blend from Ecuador, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic and the sugar they use for our Caramel Chocolates is British Beet sugar.

Ethics: - They state that they have never sourced their chocolate from the Ivory Coast where the use of child labour has been well documented. They are particularly committed to eradicating child labour and hence why their chocolate has been sourced from Vietnam. In addition they are also supports of the NSPCC and Princess Margarita Trust. It certainly sounds impressive stuff and this is what drew me to buy this particular bar. When you buy this bar £1 is donated to Action Against Hunger which is a great cause.

The Chocolate: Well the company's ethics cannot be questioned but what does Single Estate Vietnamese Dark Chocolate taste like? I ordered this bar over the internet and it arrived quickly and the bar was whole due to the adequate but protective outer. The packaging is plain with minimal color and cardboard. The bar itself is presented in a cellophane wrapper instead of the more traditional gold or silver wrapper. Which seems to be a bit of a taboo amongst some of the hoyty toyty chocolate gods. 

There is a good 'snap' as you break into the bar which is a complete slab, something else which goes against tradition. There is a delicious 'fruitiness' which comes through the cocoa that makes this bar well balanced. This is an enjoyable and palatable dark chocolate and I'm enjoying every mouthful. However, is this the best chocolate in the world? We'll it is very good and I think the jury will be out for a very longtime before we can answer this one. 

Ingredients: Vietnamese cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, natural vanilla, soya lecithin.

Priced at £3.40 plus VAT for a 70g bar plus postage and packing this seems an expensive indulgence but when you consider £1 goes to a good cause your conscious is cleared! This is a good bar of chocolate and I'll be back for more, 9/10. Well done Marc Demarquette for bringing us something original and tasty!