Thursday, 11 December 2008

Like Wine for Chocolate – Cocoa Farm Wine Chocolate Barrels

Previously unbeknownst to me, there are gourmet missionaries out there who challenge themselves to find the most compatible wines to partner with fine chocolate. And why not, a double whammy of euphoric neurostimulation if it works I suppose. My own experiences had been limited to spontaneous and regrettable occasions when mouth puckered at unpleasant tartness as vin du jour clashed with tastebuds sweetened with the preceding chocolaty morsel. I’d been trying it all wrong and haphazard it seems, just should’ve made sure my wine of choice was sweeter to the palate than the chocolate. A syrupy fortified perhaps, or a luscious Aussie botrytis semillon. But fresh reds like merlot, pinot noir or shiraz? Well, home-grown chocolate brand Cocoa Farm of Melbourne-based company Farm by Nature believes so and has taken out the guesswork with their Wine Chocolate products.

Farm by Nature Marketing asked Spot4Nosh whether we would like to review their new Shiraz Wine Chocolate Barrel gift box product and after absolutely no arm twisting by them whatsoever, we promptly agreed to a complimentary box in the mail to sample. A nicely evocative box containing individually wrapped mini ‘wine-barrels’ of a blend of milk and dark chocolate (38% cocoa solids) which in turn encased raisins that had been thoroughly soaked in wine, Australian shiraz in this case. Nothing too different from your standard raisin studded choc bar perhaps but the angle is in the infusion of ‘real’ wine into the fruit. The wine flavour is subtle, nothing like the harsh liquid bitterness of liqueur chocolates. It leaves a faintly tart but not at all unpleasant aftertaste, which actually became quite moreish. I am not usually one who’ll go weak at the knees when presented with chocolate, but the wine chocolate barrels were quite good. I guess the mouthfeel could have been smoother, not quite up there with the really good boutique or European products. And I’m not quite convinced one will be able to tell the difference between the three wine ‘flavours’ in the range. All the same, Cocoa Farm chocolate beats many of the mass products found on the supermarket shelves. That the wine chocolate range was developed by Australian food technologists is a plus. The company has also invested in Australia’s first commercial cocoa plantation in North Queensland which will make for even more of a home grown product. I certainly wouldn’t mind another gift box or three to savour over after-dinner coffee or further glass of shiraz. It’s the season to be jolly after all! To the gifters, you may have to hunt around a little for them!


claire said...

Aha! Of the several food bloggers reviewing the Cocoa Farm wine chocolates, you are the first to disclose that you were asked to do by marketers and were sent the chocs for free. I got that email too but didn't take them up on the offer, and have been curious to see if those who did would mention the marketing request and the freebie.
Full marks for full disclosure! :)

Towser said...

Hi Claire! Pleased to see I still have readers! Yes I guess this is a dilemma that bloggers will increasingly have to deal with, and decide what we individually are willing to get into as well. I sense an increasing realisation by companies and establishments of what a huge untapped marketing resource food blogs can be...and what's more, it can be tapped for FREE! All it'll take from them is a bit of Googling and just a little flattery. Other recent examples are Crown's invitation to the opening of 'Sho' from which they certainly got a fair bit of free (and positive) promotion around the local blogging traps. Don't get me wrong, I was out of the country at the time or I would also have attended ;) And those of us that are willing to sign up to Foodbuzz are essentially just acting as free billboards for their advertisers! They get paid, we get a fancy logo! Think it's the price personal blogs are paying for finally being taken as being here to stay, as well as potentially influential!

So with all this in mind, my opinion? Well I'm comfortable with full disclosure and making sure I'm not simply endorsing anything offhand but actually providing a real (personal) opinion on it like in all of the reviews here, good or bad. Though I don't think it's much of a gamble for them, we're generally a pretty benign bunch! And since I'm doing this totally for a bit of fun, if someone else makes money out of it so be it. Don't think I'll get to spend enough time here to seriously consider getting any bit of that action, fair or not.

I will be very interested to hear what others have to say on this!

Agnes said...

Like Claire, I didn't take them up on the offer either but I was curious to see what would result from other bloggers. Good on you for the disclosure - I agree with you Towser about endorsing things with full disclosure. :)

And on the subject of "I sense an increasing realisation by companies and establishments of what a huge untapped marketing resource food blogs can be" did you guys get an email from a Melbourne based advertising agency?

Duncan | syrupandtang said...

Indeed, you still have enthusiastic readers, Towser:)

It's interesting to see how some haven't disclosed.

Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

Great blog. Well written and very engaging. Keep up the good work!