Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

Some of my favorite bloggers are posting about favorite holiday fragrances, and several have created their own fragrance Advent calendars, so clearly ’tis the season! I love Advent, but I was too slow off the mark to organize my own Advent calendar in time, and this is a very busy time of year for me at work, so I’ll just enjoy reading about theirs — although I might get my act together for a few “scents of Advent” or even a fragrance Twelve Days of Christmas, so stay tuned!

As some of you know, I’m an enthusiastic amateur gardener. One of the plants I love most is the hellebore, sometimes called the “Christmas Rose” or “Lenten Rose” because it blooms in the winter. I love it so much that the special china we bring out for the holidays from now through February has hellebores on it.

Spode Christmas Rose

So for my “scents of Advent” post today, I’m going to write about a few of the rose scents that I especially enjoy in the fall and winter, although real hellebores have little fragrance. Actual roses can emphasize so many different facets of their natural fragrance, and then perfumers focus on a few of those, and choose companion notes to heighten that emphasis; this is undoubtedly why there are hundreds, if not thousands, of rose-centric fragrances. I know some perfume-lovers dislike rose, but I’m inclined to think that may be because they haven’t found the right rose for them, or because they have unhappy associations with bad rose scents like poorly made soap.

I love fresh, citrusy, green roses in the spring and summer, but I’m just not drawn to them when the weather turns colder. Luckily, many perfume houses have created scents that emphasize the spicier, darker, warmer aspects of rose, and those are the ones I enjoy at this time of year. I’ve written before about some of them: Aramis’ Calligraphy Rose, Montale’s Intense Cafe, Gres’ Cabaret. Here are a few more:

Tauerville’s Rose Flash: this is one of the best fragrance buys on the market, imho. It is the first of Andy Tauer’s “Tauerville” line, fragrances that are deliberately more experimental (and more affordable) than his main line but still artfully crafted and multi-faceted. Rose Flash comes in a 20% concentration; in other words, parfum extrait strength. At $63 for a 30 ml bottle, and given its high quality, it’s at the top of my list. Here is the description from the website: “A shamelessly diffusive, tenacious, extrait-strength creation, overflowing with the greens, spices, citruses, woods and creamy intimacies which enter your very soul when you stick your nose into a bona fide, scented, living rose.” Be still, my heart! Yes, it really is that good.

Bottle of Andy Tauer's Tauerville Rose Flash parfum

Tauerville Rose Flash; image from www.theredolentmermaid.com.

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018: an update of a former Penhaligon’s classic, Elisabethan Rose, its notes are: Hazelnut Leaf, Almond Oil, Cinnamon, Red Lily, Rose Centifolia Oil, Rose Absolute, Vetyver, Musk, Wood. The unusual opening is just spicy enough to make it clear that this is a deep red rose, nothing pale. The cinnamon note makes it right for this season, but it isn’t strong. The rose notes, which appear right away, are fruity and deep, with wonderful undertones of spices and light wood. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite rose fragrances — and what’s not to love about a bottle with a white ruff around its neck?

Bottle of Penhaligon's Elisabethan Rose eau de parfum with roses

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018; http://www.penhaligons.com.

Jo Malone’s Tudor Rose & Amber: one of the limited edition “Rock the Ages” set of 2015, Tudor Rose & Amber is meant to embody one of the most notable periods of English history. From Fragrantica: “Tudor Rose & Amber evokes the bloody and turbulent Tudor era. The fragrance contains Damask and Tudor rose as well as ginger in the heart, spicy beginning of pink pepper and clove and the base of golden amber, patchouli and white musk.” The ginger and clove make this a warm, dark rose for winter. Many commenters talk about a boozy or winelike impression; if so, it’s a mulled wine. Even Luca Turin likes this; in “Perfumes: The Guide 2018”, he gave it four stars and wrote:

The distinguished Grasse house of Mane must have been gutted to see Christine Nagel move to Hermes, because she was a priceless treasure. It’s not as if the rose-amber accord hadn’t occurred to anyone before, but Nagel inserts her trademark slug of biblical spices and woods smack in the center, as she did in Theorema (Fendi, 1998) and rescues it from heaviness and banality. Very fine work.

Rock the Ages collection of five fragrances from Jo Malone London

Jo Malone Rock the Ages Collection 2015; http://www.jomalone.com

Do you have any favorite cold-weather rose fragrances? Any fragrances that particularly say “holidays” to you? Please share!

Featured image from www.neillstrain.com.

 

Scent Sample Sunday: Aramis Calligraphy Rose

Scent Sample Sunday: Aramis Calligraphy Rose

Several of the perfume blogs I follow are featuring lists and questions about favorite autumn fragrances, and I’ve found myself mentioning, more than once, Aramis’ Calligraphy Rose, which I like to wear in the fall and winter as a “floriental” — still floral, which is probably my most favored category of fragrance, with added oriental fragrance aspects like spices, myrrh, frankincense, etc. Per Fragrantica, its top notes are oregano, saffron and honeysuckle; middle notes are turkish rose, myrrh, styrax and lavender; base notes are labdanum, musk, ambergris and olibanum (frankincense).

Calligraphy Rose was one of a trio of Aramis eaux de parfum launched from 2012-2014: Calligraphy (2012), Calligraphy Rose (2013) and Calligraphy Saffron (2014). It was created by perfumer Trudi Loren, who is listed with Maurice Roucel as co-creator of 2006’s Missoni, awarded five stars by Luca Turin in his original “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.” It has been discontinued but is still widely available online for reasonable prices.

To my nose, Calligraphy Rose starts out green and sweet, which makes sense given the top notes listed. The oregano I smell is the green, growing plant, not the dried herb. The sweetness must come from the honeysuckle note, which Gail Gross wrote about in a wonderful review of Calligraphy Rose last January at CaFleureBon. For her, the honeysuckle was very dominant. It is less so for me, though its underlying sweetness never leaves. On my skin, the rose note emerges quickly and strongly, and it persists for a long time, which I love. I have layered Calligraphy Rose with other rose scents such as Taif Roses by Abdul Samad Al Qurashi, a powerful rose attar, on occasions like Christmas Eve, with happy results; any lasting rose fragrance will have the same effect of amplifying the already-strong rose note. I bet it would layer beautifully with Viktor&Rolf’s Flowerbomb Rose Twist, a perfume layering oil, or with Tauerville’s Rose Flash, with its 20% concentration. One could emphasize other notes in a similar fashion, such as adding a lavender or frankincense layer, pushing it in any direction one prefers. Calligraphy Rose is a bit of a chameleon.

As it dries down, Calligraphy Rose on its own becomes less floral and more balsamic, like a lovely balsamic glaze. This “glaze” was made with honey, and includes herbs. Having started out quite green, it becomes warmer, thanks to those warm base notes. In fact, its progression is not unlike the progression of autumn itself, from the lingering green of still-living plants, to the late flushes of rose blooms, to the warmth and spice of winter dishes. P.S. It lasts for hours and hours! One spray on my wrist is still wafting faintly off my skin almost 24 hours later as a warm, sweet skin scent. Use with a light hand, but you’ll smell marvelous for a long time.

Calligraphy Rose is a truly unisex fragrance. Launched under Estee Lauder’s men’s brand of Aramis, it suits both men and women. It is less gourmand than Montale’s Intense Cafe, more herbal. I love it!

Fragrance Friday: Rose Royale

Fragrance Friday: Rose Royale

Just days ago, a book I have been eagerly awaiting (despite the controversy its authors love to stir) was finally published: “Perfumes: The Guide 2018”, by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. Of course, I’ve spent more time than I should browsing its characteristically snarky, idiosyncratic reviews — agreeing with some, disagreeing with others, but always informed and amused by their points of view. One thing I do like is that Turin and Sanchez are quite upfront about some of their individual tendencies and how those may affect their reviews. For instance, Turin doesn’t really like rose soliflores. And yet he gave four stars to Parfums Nicolai’s Rose Royale and listed it among the top ten florals of the last decade. Good enough for me, since I love rose soliflores and we’ve just finished June, the month of roses! Here is Parfums Nicolai‘s own description:

Real rose without any frills or fuss, fresh and vegetal thanks to its magnificent natural essences. With just a few strands of coriander as well as base notes of immortelle to give it punch without any distortion … simply the perfume of the rose at the end of its stem. A longing for nature becomes a scent of vegetation enhanced by blackcurrant and passion fruit, over an explosion of Turkish rose essence. Coriander and ambrette seeds enhance the fragrance. Bottom notes of guiac wood and immortelle strengthen the long lasting, lingering spell of Rose Royale.

After having visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this spring, I renewed my obsession with David Austin’s English Roses, which added to its medals with another spectacular display of his stunning flowers. If you don’t know of them, they are the result of Mr. Austin’s lifetime of hybridizing roses to restore the fragrances and forms of the older French roses he loves, combining them with the vigor, disease resistance, color range, and repeat flowering of more modern roses. Each entry for a rose in his catalogue lovingly  describes not only the growth habit, color, form and size of its blossoms, but also each variety’s individual fragrance. One such entry reads:

Munstead Wood: Light crimson buds gradually open to reveal very deep velvety crimson blooms, the outer petals remaining rather lighter in color. The flowers are large cups at first, becoming shallowly cupped with time. The growth is quite bushy, forming a broad shrub with good disease resistance. The leaves are mid-green, the younger leaves being red-bronze to form a nice contrast. There is a very strong Old Rose fragrance with a fruity note. Our fragrance expert, Robert Calkin, assesses this as “warm and fruity with blackberry, blueberry and damson.”

Munstead Wood was recommended to me by someone who used to work with David Austin, and so I am now growing it in a large pot on my front terrace, which faces south (much of my garden is shaded at least part of the day, which doesn’t suit roses). And Rose Royale smells a lot like it, with its top notes of blackcurrant buds, passion fruit, and bergamot moving quickly into the heart of rose, coriander, and ambrette seeds. I love it! Yes, Mr. Turin, I do love a good rose soliflore.

David Austin English Rose "Munstead Wood"

David Austin rose “Munstead Wood”; image from http://www.davidaustinroses.com

Rose Royale has a delectable opening, the blackcurrant buds dominating, followed by bergamot lending its green-citrus pop, with passion fruit hovering behind them and adding sweetness to the green. If I had to pick one genre of fragrances to love, it would have to include greenness (green florals, green aromatics, etc.), and Rose Royale fits the bill. After the lively opening, the rose takes center stage, but the fragrance never loses its “fresh and vegetal” character. Mr. Turin refers to it as a “soapy rose” but it doesn’t smell soapy to me, or at least no more so than a real rose often does. I suspect this is because rose notes have been so heavily used to scent soap that our Western noses merge the two. Be that as it may, here is his review of Rose Royale in “Perfumes: The Guide 2018” (Kindle Edition):

Tomes of perfumery prattle are churned out annually on the subject of the Her Royal Majesty the Rose, Queen of Flowers, and all associated romance and grandeur. Yet when you smell rose soliflores, they do tend to let you down: flat or thin, a whisper of phenylethyl alcohol or a mere goofy fruity fantasy. Patricia de Nicolaï’s take is a perfect soapy-aldehydic white-floral froth with facets of lemon and raspberry. If you are the sort of gold-rimmed-teacup gripping, pinky-finger sticker-outer who will insist against all advice upon a rose soliflore uninterfered with by complicating ideas, here is a beautifully silly one for you.

While I do own gold-rimmed teacups, I don’t stick out my pinky finger while drinking from them, and my hands are often too grubby from digging in my garden’s dirt to grip them very regularly.

Royal Crown Derby Imari pattern tea set with white roses, from TeaTime Magazine

Royal Crown Derby Imari; image from http://www.teatimemagazine.com

Like the rose Munstead Wood, which has some of the sharper thorns I’ve encountered among roses I’ve grown, Rose Royale has a little more bite to it than is immediately apparent. As it dries down, there is enough light wood and spice to suggest that there is more to this rose than its soft petals. I would agree with Mr. Turin’s overall assessment, though, that Rose Royale evokes a certain elegance and delicacy one might associate with gold-rimmed teacups. Patricia de Nicolai clearly intended this, as her company’s website describes the fragrance as inspired and named for “a stroll in the calm of the Palais Royal, with a French garden framed by perfect classical architecture.” It has been far too many years since I myself visited Paris and strolled through the Palais Royal, but Rose Royale takes me there with one sniff.

 

Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Rosier

Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Rosier

June is the month for roses and rose fragrances, so I have a few to review in coming days! On my recent trip to London, I was able to buy a bottle of an artisan perfume new to me, Nancy Meiland’s Rosier, from Rouillier White. (I cheated a bit — I didn’t go to the actual store, which is still on my to-do list; I ordered from their website and had it delivered to the serviced apartment where we were staying). The box has this to say:

Notes of Italian bergamot, tangerine and blackcurrant top ROSIER, denoting the moment a water droplet forms on a petal. A contemporary twist on the traditional rose scent, this is a soliflore, in which the whole flower is represented. Pink pepper acts for the thorns, while green galbanum is the leaves. Rose geranium, white pear, jasmine, peony, and violet are delicately strung together for the bud, and the endnotes evoke the image of a broken beaded necklace as the scent spreads beautifully on the skin. It is a landing both soft and reassuring, of buttery mimosa, tobacco, hay, and angelica seeds.

Notice that none of the notes listed include an actual rose note!  But the name is accurate: “rosier” means rosebush in French, and this scent evokes the whole rose, as described above. The opening notes are gorgeous, a lively blend of sparkling citrus and fruit that is not at all sweet. Next up, to my nose, is the galbanum, which I love. I like most green florals, and usually the greener the better. In fact, before I found Rosier, I had been idly wondering what fragrances truly combined sharp green galbanum with roses, so I was delighted to find this one.

The odd thing about Rosier is that I don’t get any traditional rose FLOWER notes at all. The heart notes are lovely, and they suggest a rose bud, as described, but there is no strong note of rose itself. That said, this is a truly lovely, different fragrance, rosy rather than rose-centric. The Perfume Society had an article about Nancy Meiland and her perfumes that noted:

It’s very much NOT your great-aunt’s rose – and Nancy observes: ‘I wanted to depict both the light and the dark shades of it, as opposed to this pretty, twee and girly rose that’s become slightly old-fashioned. I was interested in a soliflore of the rose depicting the whole flower including the very slightly “acid” moment the dew drop forms on the petal, the peppery thorns and hay-like buttery notes in the base. The result was something that turned out to have a touch of “bramble”, more reminiscent of a rose briar.

A longer article appeared in 2016 on the Scents and the City blog: Nature Girl: Interview with Perfumer Nancy Meiland. Nancy started out working for a bespoke perfumer in London and also taught perfumery courses. She is now based in East Sussex, and has released four fragrances of her own.

Perfumer Nancy Meiland testing fragrances

Perfumer Nancy Meiland; image from http://www.scentsandthecitylondon.com

Back to the fragrance! The blogger Persolaise commented that it is like a rose dipped in nitrogen, and he also noted the sharp green that I love. He also said that it dwindles into “soapiness” but the fragrance is “not without merit.” Here’s my take: I do get a period of soapiness in the middle of its progression, but it doesn’t last long on my skin. Then I get those beautiful base notes: mimosa, hay, tobacco, and angelica. I love the first stages so much, and find the end stage so soothing, that I am willing to live with a little soapiness in the middle. I do love traditional roses and rose fragrances, though; so I think I may try my precious Taif Roses attar layered with Rosier, just as an experiment.

Another interesting point to ponder: one of the most legendary hybridizers of roses in the world is the House of Meilland, based in France. The Meilland family has created hundreds of beautiful hybrid roses, including one of my all-time favorites, Eden. I don’t think Nancy Meiland is related to the French rose growers, but I enjoy linking her Rosier to their “rosiers”.

Collage images of Eden pink climbing roses, from the House of Meilland.

Collage of Eden roses; image from http://www.tovfone.com.

 

Fragrance Friday and Saturday Snippet: Le Petit Prince

Fragrance Friday and Saturday Snippet: Le Petit Prince

I am reposting this from my other blog, “Old Herbaceous”, where I post about gardening and garden-related books. It seems appropriate for a “Fragrance Friday” because this rose, “Le Petit Prince”, has won awards for its fragrance and that is a major reason why I bought it for my garden. I am growing it in a large pot that can be moved around until I learn more about its habits and where it might grow best. It is, indeed, marvelously fragrant!

Old Herbaceous

This is a tardy Saturday Snippet, posted on a Sunday because I spent most of yesterday actually planting things in my garden! But I have the perfect reason to post this weekend, complete with literary tie-in: my new rosebush, Le Petit Prince.

Also known as La Rose du Petit Prince, this beautiful rose is named for the classic novella Le Petit Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, which features a Rose who is the Little Prince’s responsibility and love, in spite of her flaws.

Illustration from Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Le Petit Prince and his Rose

But here’s some additional, wonderful information about the actual rose, from the blog www.thelittleprince.com:

“For over 50 years the Pépinières et Roseraies Georges Delbard nursery gardeners have been creating exceptional roses. Very possibly you have a Claude Monet or Comtesse de Ségur rose bush growing in your garden … It was back in 2008 that they first thought of…

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Scent Sample Sunday: Montale Intense Cafe

Scent Sample Sunday: Montale Intense Cafe

I received Intense Cafe as part of a fragrance subscription service and it has quickly become a favorite. Classified by Fragrantica as an “Oriental Vanilla”, its main floral note is a rich rose, supported by notes of coffee, amber, vanilla and musk. This is my first Montale fragrance and it’s a hit! I’ve been complimented on it by an elderly lady while buying plants at a local nursery, and by my son while driving him to a gathering with other teenaged boys, as well as by my husband even through his recent head cold.

Intense Cafe is a great rose scent for cooler months. After an initial fruity rose burst, the coffee notes hover in the background and are more like a latte; in fact, much like the way I like my lattes from the local baristas: double shots of espresso, lots of foamy milk, and a sprinkle of vanilla powder on top. Kafkaesque sensed cocoa too, sometimes even more than coffee, but that was not my experience. Unlike many Oriental fragrances, Intense Cafe isn’t spicy; it is creamy and a bit sweet, though not overly so and not a gourmand scent, to me. Some commenters on Fragrantica think it smells like oud; I think Kafkaesque is probably right, that they are smelling another note she says is typical of Montale, Iso-E Super, as I’m not picking up anything I recognize as oud (not that I’m an expert).

The fragrance has great longevity; a few small sprays in the morning and I am set for the day. I emphasize “small sprays” because it is quite potent. Apparently sillage is excellent too; I was at a local nursery recently to buy pansies for my winter planters (yes, they bloom all winter here — lovely!) and an older lady came over to me from at least 20 feet away to ask what fragrance I had on, because she liked it so much. Keep in mind that we were already surrounded by nice flower scents from living plants, and Intense Cafe still made its presence known.

To my delight, there is actually such a thing as a vanilla rose latte! Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Company (from which I borrowed the featured image above) has this recipe: Vanilla Rose Latte. Even Nespresso has a recipe for a Rose Caffe Latte with Vanilla, though ironically, the recipe for their automatic espresso machine seems much more complicated than the one from Barnie’s. I think I will just add some rose simple syrup to my next order from Starbucks once I get it home, and see how that tastes!

There is even a rose variety Cafe Latte, available through a marvelously named flower wholesaler in Holland, The Parfum Flower Company. Honestly, the photo below looks exactly how Intense Cafe smells to me: less of a red, fruity rose and more of a soft, dusty capuccino pink with lashings of cream.

Rose Cafe Latte from flower wholesaler Parfum Flower Company

Rose Cafe Latte; image from Parfum Flower Company.

The Parfum Flower Company specializes in highly scented garden roses for special occasions. As they note in their YouTube video (!), most commercially grown roses now have little or no fragrance. The Parfum Flower Company grows roses like my beloved David Austin Roses, as well as other very fragrant varieties from other hybridizers. Just look at that gorgeous color!

Intense Cafe will likely be one of the few scents I’ve sampled that will move to “full bottle” status on my wishlist. With Christmas approaching, maybe Santa will oblige!

Montale Intense Cafe snowflakes

Montale Intense Cafe; image from http://www.11street.my.

Fragrance Friday: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

Fragrance Friday: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

I love carnations. Not in floral arrangements, where they have been sadly overused as inexpensive filler, but in the garden and even in a vase if they are left on their own as a simple bunch of pretty, scented flowers. I love the scent of carnations — the hint of spiciness with more than a suggestion of cloves, combined with the green freshness of a florist’s refrigerator. And so I really like L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Oeillet Sauvage.

There is nothing savage about it, but perhaps “sauvage” should rather be translated as “wild”, as in “wildflower”. Oeillet Sauvage is a soft, fresh floral, with the same delightful, gentle spiciness of the flowers and a hint of freshness. It is not a duplicate of real carnations’ scent, but it is true to their essence, with nuances from other floral notes. Fragrantica lists its notes as: pink pepper, rose, carnation, ylang-ylang, lily, wallflower, morning glory, resin and vanilla. And those reminded me of a long-favorite painting: John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose:

Painting by American artist John Singer Sargent; Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

John Singer Sargent; Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

I have read that while Sargent was painting this twilight scene, in which the special, evanescent quality of that hour’s light is as much a subject as the children, the flowers and the paper lanterns, he would set up his easel outside for just the brief time every day when the light was exactly right, and he would run back and forth, back and forth, between the subjects and his easel, to capture just the right shades of color. Now THAT is dedication to one’s art.

He also painted it during the early autumn months of 1885, in September, October and November, resuming work the next summer and finishing it in October of 1886. I have loved this painting since I first saw it, with its crepuscular glow, peaceful children with faces lit by the gentle candlelight of the paper lanterns, with the fragrant, late summer flowers seeming to float in the air around them. According to Wikipedia, the title comes from the refrain of a popular 19th century song, “Ye Shepherds Tell Me”, which describes Flora, goddess of flowers, wearing “a wreath around her head, around her head she wore, carnation, lily, lily, rose”.

I have read others’ comments about Oeillet Sauvage in which they express disappointment that it is not the same as a pre-reformulation version and it is not as spicy as they would like. I can’t speak to the concern about reformulation, not having smelled an earlier version. I don’t think this version suffers from a lack of spiciness, in my view, as I am enjoying the softer, powdery impression it leaves. To me, that is evocative of the soft, pink-tinged light in Sargent’s painting. Now that I have made that association, I am not yearning after more spice. The painting even includes the slight greenness that greets me when I first spray Oeillet Sauvage, in the grass beneath the children’s feet. Fragrantica commenter Angeldaisy wrote: “it has an airiness, a lightness, like a billowing floral print diaphanous chiffon frock in a meadow on a summers day.” Or like the white lawn dresses of Sargent’s subjects.

As it dries down, I get less carnation and more lily, which I like. The greenness disappears, while resins and vanilla warm up the scent like the glow of the candles in Sargent’s Japanese lanterns. I’m not sure what the notes of wallflowers and morning glories are meant to smell like, but they are old-fashioned flowers that would have fit in perfectly in Sargent’s Cotswolds garden.

If you like soft, gentle, feminine, floral fragrances, this may be one for you! It is readily available online for reasonable prices. Have you tried this, or other carnation-based fragrances? What did you think? And happy Fragrance Friday!