Tuesday, June 7, 2016

LaBri 2012 Syrah, Franschhoek, and Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Caramel & Sea Salt

For some wine lovers it is the ultimate pairing: rich red wine and dark chocolate. Here’s the results of our latest match.

Two Continents Unite

For our chocolate and wine tasting, I selected a wine we purchased on our trip to South Africa. LaBri is a winery with roots back to the Huguenot setters of 1694. The French Huguenots brought their love of wine to Franschhoek and the area has become the food and wine capitol of Africa.

Endangered Specials Chocolate is the first American-made chocolate using fully traceable Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa. Fairtrade products help farmers make a real living and invest in a viable future. The chocolate is certified non-GMO and is gluten-free.

Treasure Wine Delivers

My wife, the Green Dragon, likes to call our prized wines “treasure wines.” In this case, the LaBri Syrah traveled about 8,000 miles in our suitcase from South Africa back to Ohio. We had one of our best experiences of our South Africa trip at the LaBri winery and it included a chocolate and wine pairing as well as a biltong and wine pairing. Biltong is a bit like beef jerky, but made with antelope and exotic animals.

The Syrah is blended with a small amount of Viognier, a white grape, in the style of Rhone wines. Syrah can have an earthy style and the Viognier softens it. The LaBri has flavor notes of violets, herbs and blackberry.The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, which gives it a nice smooth body.

The Eagle Bar

We knew the Endangered Species Chocolate bar would be great even without unwrapping it. The makers donate 10% of net profits go to GiveBack Partners (including the Rainforest Trust, Wildlife Conservation Network, and African Wildlife Foundation) and each partner gets a minimum of $10,000 annually. Endangered Species has contributed more than $1.2 million over the last three years. That is good taste!

The Eagle Bar stands on its merit quite well, too. It is 60% cacao, which is a nice percentage. I’ve found chocolate with a higher percentage can be more bitter. Milk chocolate, however, doesn’t pair well with full-bodied wines.

Caramel and sea salt is a winning combination. Paired with the dark chocolate, each bite is an explosion of taste with smooth chocolate and caramel with the contrasting flavor and texture of the salt.

Paired with the wine, this is a serene combination. The chocolate notes and the fruit and herbs of the Syrah blend into a happy harmony. We enjoyed this on the Memorial Day weekend, and so the American Eagle on the label was appropriate too.

Endangered Species Chocolate is available in local stores or online. Pair with a robust red and you’ll have an evening of enjoyment while saving some noble animals.

Full Disclosure: We received the chocolate as a marketing sample.

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