For me one of the smells of the fall is that of the annual wine crush. It is when all the harvested grapes are fed into the crusher-stemmer right around this time of year. It varies based on the weather. It has always surprised me that there are not more wine-inspired perfumes. So much of the pleasure of wine is associated with swirling in the glass and breathing deeply before sipping. Perhaps one of the reasons is because one of the earliest attempts at this was so good it is hard to compete against it. If you love wine and perfume Ginestet Botrytis needs to be on your radar.
This overlap became the source of conversation when Christian Delpeuch the Managing Director of Ginestet Wine Merchants met perfumer Gilles Toledano. They decided to collaborate on three perfumes which capture the great wines of Bordeaux. Le Boise evokes the smell of the barrels used to age the wine right down to the slightly sweet nature of the wood used to make them. Sauvignonne is an elegant translation of a sauvignon blanc with the snap of grapefruit to the luscious fruit represented by peach. I like both but neither of them really make me think “Wine!” Botrytis does.
The name refers to the mold which grows on late harvest grapes which helps to remove the water from the grape increasing the concentration of sugars within. This is the kind of grape which is the foundation of many of the sweeter wines on the shelf. What M. Toledano and M. Delpeuch capture here is the moment when these grapes are converted to that sweet nectar. As their inspiration they used perhaps the greatest dessert wine in the world; the Sauternes of Chateau d’Yquem.
The perfume opens on a rich accord of honey and quince forming a densely sweet opening. This is the concentrated sugar of the harvested grape. Botrytis is one of my favorite honey perfumes because of this opening. Over time M. Toledano adds in other dried fruits as you can almost feel the mold drying out the grape. Just when it begins to approach the level of becoming cloying M. Toledano cuts it all with a fantastic accord built on pain d’epice. The French spice bread is here with the yeasty doughy feel infused with a mélange of spices. It breaks the sweetness as you can imagine the fermentation process beginning to take place. The final part of this is a combination of jasmine and tuberose adding an indolic exhalation across the entire construction.
Botrytis has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.
There have only been a couple of perfumes which have expertly captured the place where perfume and wine intersect. Botrytis is the best of them all.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
When it comes to the culinary arts honey is one of my favorite ingredients to use. It has so much versatility in the kitchen. When it comes to my sense of smell it can be an entirely different experience. Honey when used as the focal point of a fragrance has a tipping point for me. After a certain concentration it changes from being a bit of viscous sweet sunshine to the smell of a urinal cake. I am not unique in this as the perfume forums are full of the same kind of impressions. That doesn’t mean there aren’t perfumes which are on the good side of the line. Here are five honey perfumes I think stay away from the less desirable aspects of honey in perfume.
The first honey perfume I fell in love with was 2004’s Christian Dior La Collection Privee Bois D’Argent by Annick Menardo. An opaque opening of incense and iris evolves into a heart of honey and myrrh. Mme Menardo creates a gauzy drizzle of resins and honey which eventually finds purchase on a base of suede leather. One of Mme Menardo’s best creations ever.
The small perfume brand which has come out of the Bordeaux vineyard Maison Ginestet has made one of the best honey perfumes. Ginestet Botrytis is composed by perfumer Gilles Toledano. M. Toledano wanted to create a perfume reminiscent of the botrytis fungus which helps concentrate the sugar content of grapes. The perfume named after that is a rich mix of honey and quince most recognizably but there are a host of other candied fruits underneath. It all rests on a white flower infused spice bread accord. The wine snob and the perfume snob both approve of M. Toledano’s interpretation of both.
Tokyo Milk Honey and the Moon No. 10 by Margot Elena is one of those amazing bang for the buck fragrances. I tried it for the first time in a promotional rollerball while waiting in line in Sephora. I was back a day later to buy a full bottle. It is a simple construction of sugary sweet on top. Candied violet and honey in the heart leading to sandalwood. It is simply constructed and one of my favorite very sweet perfumes.
The cumin, caraway, and honey opening of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue pour Le Soir by Francis Kurkdjian is just the beginning of what I think is one of the best perfumes of the last five years. Whenever I need to remind myself of the artistry of perfume Absolue pour Le Soir is where I turn. The remainder of this perfume moves through an incense soaked rose down into an intensely woody base of sandalwood and cedar. This is not perfume for the faint of heart. It is perfume for those who love perfume.
I am not sure I have any more words left to praise Vero Profumo Rozy Voile D’Extrait by perfumer Vero Kern. My perfume of the year for 2014 by my perfumer of the year for 2014. I have said it before and I say it again this is the best post-modern rose ever. The reason is the honey which forms the viscous core around which rose, spice, and labdanum are suspended. It is an incredible feat of perfumery.
As I finished this list it occurred to me that for all that I am wary of honey in fragrance I consider four of these perfumes among the best ever made. It is probably the strongest collection of My Favorite Things to date. If you do like honey these are five perfumes which should be on your list to try.
Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.