Cocoa Farm Pinot Noir

Posted by in Chocolate Reviews on November 29 2008 | Leave A Comment

We recently found Cocoa Farm by accident. They even seem to export to the UK, though the packaging is quite different. In Australia, it’s not that easy to find – some of the second line supermarkets stock the range, and strangely enough so do a great many bottle shops. In the UK, you’d call them an Off-License.

What makes this range unusual is that the cocoa comes from cacao grown in the far north of Australia – which I would have thought is not tropical enough – but you live and learn. And these guys have come from nowhere, and don’t advertise.

We’ve now tried the Mango, Lime and Chilli, and the plain Dark Chocolate. All are good. Damn good, in fact. So it was time to try one from the strange range: the Wine Chocolate is a blend of milk and dark chocolate, with raisins in that have been “plumped” with Australian Pinot Noir.

The ingredients list gives the game away: the chocolate is 38% cocoa solids, the first and most prevalent ingredient on the list is sugar. It also states that the product contains no more than 0.25% alcohol. Strange also, that the blurb says it contains raisins and the ingredients lists currants. Along with the wine comes grape skin and seed extract. No idea what that’s all about. Flavour?

Inside we get plastic/foil bag, all printed with cacao pods, or leaves, or something. Looks good, and has the practical benefit that it’s tough – so it doesn’t tear and spill bits everywhere.

Opening the pack reveals a block, with the logo and name featuring prominently. The aroma is rich with a complex flavour – there is clearly more here than just chocolate. At around A$6 for a 100 gram block, you’d hope this should be something pretty special. First appearances are promising.

Shortly before opening the pack, we’d rushed off to the cherry tree in the garden and made our first ever decent harvest. What better combination – chocolate and cherries picked off the tree 10 minutes before! No, that red colour is not something from the Demon Factory Of Fake Food, that’s what they really look like! But enough – taste testing time.

This is a nice, rich, medium body chocolate, not as dark as Darth Vader might prefer (he’s on the dark side – geddit?). But the grapes and wine add a depth and richness that makes you come back for more, and more, and more. I don’t think you can really tell that this has a Pinot Noir in it. But it sure knocks the pants off a plain fruit-and-nut. And it goes pretty well with a fruit salad and dollop of ice cream, too!

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Comments On This Post

  1. Nice one Ashleigh, and I love the photos ala ‘delicious’ magazine!

    Cocoa Farm actually contacted me after I did a radio segment. Turns out that they’re owned by a few ex-directors of a MASSIVE, world-dominating chocolate company but wanted to depart and try something more natural, genuine and better. Stay tuned for more on this front…..

  2. Mariangela

    Like Milly, I appreciated the photoes too… too much I would say: Asleigh, it’s not fair! In this hemisphere (northern) we have cold, dark, wet and horrible weather, whereas You talk about going out in your garden to pick ripe cherries and taste them with chocolate….. !!!!! I could die for something like that!
    ;-) My compliments: nice review, great photoes and… I am terribly envious!
    Kisses from Italy

  3. Thank you Mariangela. The envy works both ways, though. During our winter, when it is cold and rainy, you in the northern hemisphere (and especially in Italy) usually have nice weather, fresh fruit, good wine, I could go on!

    Perhaps there is only one solution: to be rich enough to live 1/2 the year in each hemisphere. Now I just have to figure out how to do that!

  4. Mariangela

    Yes, Asleigh, You’re right… It’s just that I can’t stand this horrible weather and I adore cherries (not as much as I adore chocolate, but they’re very nice too…)

    If You figure out how to live half the year in each hemisphere, PLEASE let me know! ;-))

  5. Kara

    Hi Ashleigh, I live in nth qld and am a little confused about your statements regarding cocoa farm chocolate being made from Australian grown cocoa. This is not true – the industry here in nth queensland is in its infancy stages, with no product as yet ready for sale. Claims such as this may contravene Australian law and a lot of the growers here are quite cranky about this. The rumour here is that this product is actually produced from liquid chocolate (not OZ origin) from a very large multi-national company, perhaps the same one the executives originally came from??. Tis a nice product but should be sold on its own merits.

  6. Well…..

    I’m just relaying a combo of what’s on their packet and their web site.

    I’d HOPE they are not telling porkies.

  7. Dom (Chocablog Staff)

    Kara: It sounds to me like you might have some kind of inside knowledge. If that’s the case, I think it would be helpful if you were open about that.

    The text on Cocoa Farm’s web site is a little ambiguous:

    “We solved the problem by planting our own Cocoa plantation, – we have the only Cocoa farm in Australia.”

    Combine that with this quote from their CEO on an Australian goverment site:

    “A new chocolate factory has been commissioned at our Scoresby head office with manufacturing starting in December. Our sister company has also been working for several years to establish Australia’s first commercial cocoa farm near Mossman in far North Queensland, and we anticipate Australia’s first ever commercially grown cocoa crop will be harvested in June 2008”

    …suggests to me that they have their own farm, but have been using imported beans until they are ready to to use Australian ones. But I could be wrong.

  8. Dom (Chocablog Staff)

    Quick update. We’ve received this response from Cocoa Farm:

    “In response to your questions, and comments on chocablog, our current product does not effectively include Australian grown cocoa. Our sister company Cocoa Australia is growing cocoa in North Queensland for which we, Farm By Nature, have exclusive rights to. We had planned to harvest earlier this year and produce a limited range by Mid year, but, due to the floods and storms in February we were unable to harvest. We are now hoping to have products available using Queensland’s cocoa by mid 2009. A statement on our packaging has been amended to reflect this timing as has our website.
    Currently our organic cocoa comes from South America, and other cocoa comes from Africa.”

  9. Joey Owens

    We would appreciate if your chocolate company does grow Australian cocoa for it’s products as we’ve been informed that African cocoa beans are harvested by Child slave labour.

  10. Sounds to me like a good story. There may be some child labour in some places, and there may be some slave labour in some places, and there may even be some child slave labour in some places. But to generalise ALL harvest that way is a bit simplistic at best, and silly at worst.

  11. Joey Owens

    Hi Ashleigh, Rather than a good story its a very sad story. Conservatively 43% of cocoa harvested in Africa is produced by child slave labour. You may want to google; chocolate and child slavery and you’ll be surprised. The problem is its nearly impossible to track which cocoa has been tainted and which has not. The purpose of the above post is to find ethical chocolate products.

  12. Mariangela

    ….well, I couldn’t believe my eyes, but two days ago I found the Shiraz version of this bar…!!!! Of course I immediately bought it and… it is DELICIOUS!!!!!!! :-))))
    Bye from Italy!
    Mariangela

  13. Evelyn Charles

    I have to say, after reading the comments that the concept of Australian grown, harvested and produced chocolate that is slave free is an exciting and long awaited for concept! As a chocolate lover, the traffiking of children and slaves has almost completely cut my chocolate consuming quite harshly… but it is a sacrifice worth making and will continue to make until things change. Can someone confirm? Do we have Australian grown/harvested/produced chocolate yet???

  14. Evelyn Charles

    Can I make a correction to my prior comment… I want to say that the traffiking of children has stopped my chocolate consumption, unless it is branded “fairtrade” and actually enjoy it more now that I am having less of it… I realise how special this treat is!!

  15. Joey Owens

    Hi Evelyn, thank you for taking notice of my comment, our favorite fair trade chocolate is the “Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate with Orange and Delicate Spices” which is our favorite. Thanks Alot.

  16. Interesting! My hubby just bought a packet of this particular chocolate and nearly force-fed me a piece (“c’mon you’ll like it, I swear”). Boy am I thankful he did! :-)
    It is delicious, perhaps not as dark as I’d prefer it to be but the taste of wine is a smash hit! :-)

    I really enjoyed the bits of background information to the product that you offered in this blog and I can only dream of cocoa plantations and wineyards here in frost-ridden Scandinavia where apples are the most exotic fruit we get… ;-)

  17. John

    Now that it’s March 2010, can anyone confirm whether or not ‘Cocoa Farm’ is using Australian cocoa? It seems there was a small amount of deception by ‘Farm by nature’ in their advertising in which they implied their products were made with 100% australian cocoa. Of course the whole time their chocolate was being made with cocoa from south america and africa. Given the impurities (especially lead) that has been discovered in many chocolates, I’m keen to buy a chocolate that is made from 100% australian grown cocoa.

  18. Ashleigh

    Perhaps its time to follow up and ask them what the current situation is.

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