Listening and being attentive to nature's rhythms, intervening at the right moment, helping give birth to the natural beauty that is contained within the evolutionary realm are what make wine-making a serious affair. It is much less egocentric an activity in a way than perfume-making and it is perhaps no mere coincidence that Western perfumery as we know it started to bloom in the Renaissance period -- thanks in part to the instrumental role of Catherine de Medicis -- at a time when the notion of the individual became prominent.
Perfume-makers are aware that there is something in wine culture that eludes perfumery. What is missing is a sanction offered by an awesome force that is bigger than anyone involved in the process of creating, not a personal work of art, but the just wine, the one that strikes the right tonality and harmony in the relationship between man and nature. The just fragrance is not a common occurrence in perfumery. It would be more frequent with natural perfumers of the most humble denomination being inspired by a raw material first and foremost. But the earth in return can thank you with a unique gift, one that will not be repeatable and will mark that year as made of thousands of imponderables that will never come about again in the same manner.
Drawing on this idea that the quality of a perfume, like wine, depends on a specific harvest and time in the history of the earth, L'Artisan Parfumeur issued in 2006 an exceptional vintage of orange blossom called Fleur d'Oranger 2005. It was based on a harvest from the orchards of Nabeul in Tunisia, already home to a remarkable orange blossom.
This year having discovered that the harvest would be as worthy of a "Grande Réserve" label, they decided to turn once more to perfumer Anne Flipo for creating a new scent directly inspired by the bounty of the earth and called Fleur d'Oranger 2007.
We already reviewed the vintage from 2005 and will draw some comparisons. The 2007 vintage offers the same fruity-floral, succulent tonalities, but is much less sharp and heady than its predecessor. Next to this year's vintage, the 2005 one appears retrospectively like an intense version of the same orange blossom scent.
L'Artisan press release states that "The challenge is to surprise with orange blossom, making it unique and irresistible and highlighting the bewitching dual personality of the absolute: a lush freshness and honeyed, almost carnal warmth. To create a fragrance both virginal and sensual. This freshness is emphasizes by other parts of the orange tree (neroli, orange essential oil, the seed, extract of the twig, the bud and the leaves."
Fleur d'Oranger 2007 is less concentrated, more subtle, with a more marked citrus-y facet. This lightens up the perfume conferring it even an eau-de-Cologne personality, reminiscent at times of L'Eau de Cologne Impériale by Guerlain. There are the same white, almost blanched aspects to it.
The fresh, lighter, and discreetly aromatic facets are contrasted with a warmer neroli that lets its animalic nuances develop noticeably. There is a slight marzipan overtone, but very understated, which is meant to suggest an Oriental almond pastry. The citrus-y notes are more dominant. The perfume does not really soar but diffuses reasonably well, staying close to the body.
Fleur d'Oranger 2007 is rather linear. It was not overly "fixed" to make it last unnaturally long (since it is fall/winter and the air is drier, it might last better during the warm seasons). Since this is a composition that wants to showcase a raw material and reconnect us with the constraints of nature, we cannot ask it to be what it is not. We are invited to appreciate a moment in time, as ephemeral as the drinking of a glass of wine, that we can all conserve in our memories as it was once.
This is a fragrance for aesthets, people who like rare perfumes and appreciate the idea of wearing a vintage. In final analysis, buying it might constitute more of a powerful vote for a way of life than for the scent itself, which is more like a subtle trace, since it is not a perfume centered on the wearer and meant to magnify him or her but rather meant to celebrate the beauty of orange blossom captured from a field in Nabeul.
Only 6000 copies are available, priced at $295 each. The perfume comes in wooden box. More information is available on their site.
(Sources: L'Artisan Parfumeur press release and website)