By Benjamin Skipper
For full disclosure, this is the first of my chocolates I have been given for free. I entered a Valentine's Day contest back in February for a package of tasting squares from New Tree, so this review is for a prize I received, not something sent to me explicitly for review. It was quite a happy moment to learn of my winning, as New Tree can be a difficult and expensive brand to get a hold of, so to get it for free is positively wonderful. The 73% cherry variety is one I've particularly been wanting to try.
The package is out of production, so it's mostly immaterial to comment on that, though it may have an error on it. There's a contradiction between the pouch and the squares, for the pouch says the squares are 73% cocoa while the squares themselves say *cacao*. There is a nutritional difference to consider, but it's probable that it's cocoa since the overwhelming majority of New Tree's products are manufactured as such. Each individual square is about half as thick as New Tree's full bars and is approximately one inch long and half an inch wide. The confection itself lacks the beautiful leaf veins that decorate the bars so beautifully and instead has needle-fine stripes running across horizontally, but in a strange sense the mathematical cleanness of the precision pleases me. The ridges do add more texture on the tongue.
Overall, it's intriguing. New Tree likes to add extracts and extra inclusions in their products for added health benefits, and the grape extract in this confection gives me a strong sense of wine. The aroma is dominated by fruity wine notes and sour cherries, and the flavor profile matches the aroma near perfectly by tasting of good wine, sour cherries without the tartness, and, in its finish, a hit of sweet cocoa. Texture-wise there's a good snap in hand, and in every bite a slow but surely smooth melt without any trace of crystals.
Granted, it's not strong enough to impress, but I do appreciate it. This is the first time I've come across a wine attribute in chocolate, and it blends perfectly with the cherries. The only negative thing I can say is that I'd actually like to experience at least some brunt of the sourness of the fruit or a heightened sweetness like that of maraschino cherries, but then again I haven't eaten many kinds of cherries in my life and so am speaking from a limited taste memory. For what it offers, it's good.
In conclusion, I do maintain a favorite cherry variety above this particular one, which I'll review in the future, but this holds its own in its own unique way. Its lack of punch makes me hesitant on fully endorsing it, but I enjoy it enough to at least recommend it be given the chance of tasting. Give it a try.