I'd really give this one 3.5 stars if I could, my husband would give it 4. I ordered three brands and flavors of colomba to try: this one, Amarena Cherry from Muzzi, and a classic recipe from Bonifanti. I was disappointed that none were as good as the house brand panettone I ordered from Selfridges at Christmas (what bakery do they use?!), but Fiasconaro topped the list of these three.
The texture was excellent--it pulls apart in lovely long stretchy feathery pieces of moist cake. However, it fell a little short on the finish, lacking that almost melt-away, buttery character that the best panettone has on the palette, in my opinion.
The colomba strangely lacked aromaticity. I think of the heady, almost boozy scent of panettone as one it's great pleasures, but this had none of that. It was very odd.
The dough itself was fine--it has a slightly nutty character, but otherwise indistinct flavor profile. Fine, but nothing to write home about. It was a light brown instead of the typical egg-yolk gold, which surprised us.
We found there was too much icing, but we thought that was the case for every colomba, so we can't hold it against this one--we just think it's too much sugar. It can be easily removed, but since it makes up 10-12% of a colomba by weight, you are getting less panettone and more sugar at Easter than at Christmas. However, if you love the icing, we thought this one was the best executed of what we tried, with a nuttier flavor than the others and no artificial-tasting notes. This might be simply due to using hazelnuts instead of almonds. We really liked the use of hazelnuts kernels on top as well, and thought they paired better with the chocolate and apricot than almonds would.
Most disappointing for me was the absence of the star ingredient--very little apricot was included, and what was had been glaceed into such blandness you would be hard-pressed to identify it as apricot in a blind test. It had none of the tanginess or perfume I adore in apricot. If you're really looking forward to the apricot element, this will be a let down.
On the chocolate element, we were divided: My husband adored it, while I thought the chocolate was essentially spoiled by baking. Baking "seized" it, so it is crumbly, takes on burnt flavors, and does not melt deliciously at body temperature as tempered chocolate does. I also think it overwhelms the more delicate flavors in the bread. My husband LOVED the exact crumbly texture I disliked--he thought at first was some sort of mix between brown sugar and chocolate. He found it similar to a crumble topping on a cobbler or coffee cake. So your mileage may vary on the chocolate.
Overall, although I didn't love this particular flavor, my impression of the overall quality of bread itself was good. I would guess another flavor from Fiasconaro would probably be a good panettone at this price, since Piccolo's keeps the prices reasonable (around $25 in 2021). I might try another one here at Christmas. (If there is another panettone holiday in between, don't tell me! I can't resist and my waistline can't take it!)