Last year I picked up two chocolate bars by David Bacco in San Diego; this year I only chose one more since I already had a lot of other chocolate products to try out. Once more, these are purchases from Rust General Store in the Old Town Historic District--which is absolutely the best.
As a reminder, David Bacco is a chocolatier in San Diego and not only is this bar fair trade, it is also marked as "pure genetics verified," a particular phrase/sticker I haven't seen before. There are only three ingredients: cacao, cocoa butter, and cane sugar, all organic (note that there is no vanilla). A good starting place. Price-wise, these bars fall toward the pricey side but are still perfectly reasonable, all considered.
To try out something a little different, I got the Peru 68%; inside the card box is a little white card detailing the crop number, harvest date, and cacao bean profile (they're an heirloom variety). Normally this isn't a cacao percentage I reach for, though the flavor notes did sound appealing. "Spicy-acidic-woody, intense red cherry floral aromas and flavors, a natural sense of cacao sweetness follows, accompanied by nut and floral top notes, a hint of cardamom, finishing with vanilla and bitter coffee." Unless you have a very attuned palate, I wouldn't expect you to taste all of those notes--especially considering the somewhat low cacao percentage.
Here's how this chocolate is to me. On removing the chocolate bar from its clear wrapper, I find that the aroma has a bite to it, hinting at some bitterness. But this is not so. The one word that describes this bar is smooth, quite the opposite of bitter. Smooth mouthfeel from start to finish and smooth flavor, as well. Not strong or biting at all. It has a bit of sweetness because it is what I generally consider a milder dark chocolate (70% or 75% is where I place the average), with fruity notes. I would perhaps agree with the cherry notes.
The flavor is also in many ways a basic chocolate flavor--so if you're one of the people who likes to stick with chocolate that tastes primarily of chocolate (as opposed to all the complicated flavor notes), this may be a chocolate for you. It has layers of flavor--but it sticks pretty well to cocoa. It's also just right if you want neither a sweet nor very dark chocolate, nor something middling and bland.
This chocolate melts slowly, softly, smoothly, as if it will keep melting forever; the consistency is very smooth without being plasticy. It finishes off nice and tender. A classic chocolate, very nicely carried out. In fact, it's quite gorgeous. Sometimes I like to introduce people to new types of chocolate just so they can experience them--but this I would give to friends just because I think they would really enjoy it. It's like the dark chocolate version of Theo's 45% Creamy Milk Chocolate--not because they taste the same, but because of their wonderful edibility that is still combined with ethics and quality. Those three traits make for a winning chocolate.