Gardena are an Italian chocolate maker who have won a couple a couple of awards from the International Chocolate Awards - one of which was last year when I was a judge, although there's no knowing that I actually judged the maker of this particular chocolate.
So, after a lot of Ecuadorian chocolate lately I was pleased to try something from a less often used origin. São Tomé was made popular by the fantastic Claudio Corallo (technically Principe) and despite the Amelonado bean being the most often found strain being present on the islands it has produced some wonderful chocolate. The problem is although this origin has graced the collections of esteemed makers such as Pralus and Michel Cluizel it has also been used by the likes of Godiva, Nehaus and others, which, for such a small overall production of cacao, does lead me to be worried.
The aroma is unusual, devoid of any pleasant characteristic and what I would expect oxygen to taste like. In fact it tastes like the dry sensation you get from standing in a warehouse full of wheat. Thinking about it, it is exactly reminiscent of those 'wheat bags' that that you can heat up in the microwave.
The flavour, too, isn't as enjoyable as I would expect. It is almost reminiscent of chocolate made with sorbitol rather than sugar and from average quality cacao. I've now eaten half the bar and I wish I hadn't. I don't overdo negatives, but this bar is certainly not one we would like to stock.