New Perfume Review: Nicolai Cap Neroli- Mediterranean Madness

As I began to expand my perfume horizons the first style I latched on to was the Mediterranean aesthetic. It was enough different than the plethora of fresh aquatics, which were crowding my department store counter, while allowing me to take small steps towards different. There are plenty in this style which play up the Sea they are named after. The best are a balance of herbs, citrus, and florals which capture everything about the place they are named after. Nicolai Cap Neroli is one of the latest to get this style right.

Patricia de Nicolai has been working with her son Axel recently on the new Nicolai releases. The collaborative mere et fils have shown an evolution of the Nicolai style. There is a freshening up of the aesthetic. It hasn’t always worked for me but the effort shows another Nicolai is ready to carry on the perfumed family name. In Cap Neroli this turn towards that effect pays dividends especially early on. A Mediterranean style perfume should be bright, and a precise top accord leads to the title note followed by a biting base accord.

Axel and Patricia de Nicolai

The perfume team’s choice is to use the bitter call of bigarade to open things. Orange sweetens the bitterness. The herbal nature of rosemary and mint capture the exhilaration of standing on a cliff looking down at the Mediterranean far below. They bring a hint of the water, but they mostly provide green complement to the citrus. It isn’t stated what the source of the neroli used here but it is a top quality one where both the floral and the green are prominent. Which means the bigarade meshes with the floral while the herbs combine with the green. This forms that fresh effect I mentioned earlier. It has the frisson of summer writ large. To prepare for a deeper base the Nicolais begin to add depth with jasmine and ylang-ylang. That’s so the oakmoss which arrives doesn’t startle. It is a bitingly green version to which a set of mid-weight musks provide amplification of those qualities.

Cap Neroli has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’ve been watching a bit too much basketball this weekend. Wearing Cap Neroli while watching the March Madness tournament made me think of this as Mediterranean Madness; thrillingly so.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

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