Perfumes, Wine and Ocean

This was planned for the previous week, but time just ran away from me. So, it’s a Second Sunday Samples post on the third Sunday of the month.

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As we were planning a short getaway with friends, I was facing the usual perfumista’s dilemma: which perfumes to bring. Not only we had really vague plans that included wine and cheese tasting (not at the same time), eating oysters and beach walks, but also those activities were spread in two distinct temperature-wise areas – wine country (+32C/90F) and oceanside (23C/73F). Since I wasn’t sure how long each part of the trip would take, I didn’t want to subject any of my favorite perfumes to hours in a hot car trunk, so I didn’t consider either full bottles or even travel ones. At the same time, as a rule, I do not wear perfumes from samples that I test – unless I’m trying to decide whether to buy more. So I took with me samples for perfumes that I’ve either already included into my collection or considered for that.

 

Perfume Samples

 

I ended up wearing just one of the perfumes featured in the picture above – Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia: it was wonderful on a hot day and somehow managed not to clash with aromas from wines that we tasted that day, even though theoretically I wouldn’t recommend this perfume for the activity. I did a mini-review for it almost seven years ago in my post In the Search for the Perfect Pear, and I still enjoy wearing it but I still haven’t bought a bottle because I haven’t finished the decant and several samples that I got. It is though one of my strong favorites from this brand, and just in case you missed it in the sea of Jo Malone’s releases I encourage you to try English Pear & Freesia. Unless they change it beyond recognition, I see a bottle in my future.

 

 

One more Jo Malone perfume – Wood Sage & Sea Salt – I brought with me because it seemed like a good fit to the aquatic part of our trip. Created by Christine Nagel in 2014, with a short list of notes – ambrette seeds, sea salt, sage, seaweed and grapefruit, it felt right in place during our walk on the beach and later for the oysters and champagne dinner at the house that we rented with our friends. Wood Sage & Sea Salt wears nicely both on the tropical beach and on a cool NorCal shore (but I’m glad that I do not smell seaweed in the composition: even though I do not mind smelling it from time to time in nature, I wouldn’t want to smell of it). Will I buy a bottle once I finish my decant? I’m not sure but I might.

 

 

The biggest surprise for me was Mito EdP by vero profumo: I have tried it soon after the release and even remember liking it, but somehow I didn’t go through with the thorough testing – and the sample just stayed in my library for the last several years. It felt right for the occasion, so I took it with me, wore it on a sunny warm day for another round of wine tasting – and loved-loved-loved it.

Most of my readers had probably tested Mito before (and some even reviewed it), so I won’t go through the complete list of notes. But I want to mention my most favorite moments in this perfume development: prominent citrus opening that manages not to take this perfume into the summery cologne territory, slightly bitter greenness of galbanum in development and sweet warmth of … I have no idea what produces that effect but I keep bringing my wrist to my nose trying to figure it out… I think my almost empty sample isn’t enough to finish my study of this beautiful perfume, so I’ll just have to do something about it – in the interest of science, you know.

 

Vero Profumo Mito

 

Images: my own

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A Postcard from Undina: Sonoma – Love and Tears

Almost 10 years ago our friends took us to one of the wineries that they liked – Paradise Ridge. It was the last day of a beautiful 3-day Sonoma trip mid-December, right in between two big holidays with inevitable crowds, so we had most of the places to ourselves. It was a magic trip.

There are many good wineries in our region. Some of them look like a small castle or château. It wasn’t the case with Paradise Ridge: it looked quite ordinary from the outside.

 

Paradise Ridge Winery Tasting Room

 

If you expected that the next phrase would be about the great interiors, I tricked you: while it was very nice and perfectly suitable for their specialty – wine tasting and weddings, a large second floor banquet room, a ground floor tasting room and even a wooden deck with tables for picnic under a huge oak tree – weren’t the best part of this winery experience. But the view that opened from each of those areas was just breathtaking.

 

View from the Paradise Ridge Winery Tasting Room

 

That view alone would have been probably enough to visit that place from time to time, but they also produced wine that we liked very much. And about 8 years ago we became Paradise Ridge Wine Club members. Since I haven’t been to wine regions in any other country, I do not know how common are wine club memberships in countries where my readers live, so I’ll just quickly explain that in the U.S. it usually means that you “subscribe” to get a certain number of bottles during one year, and the winery sends you those bottles (of their choice but with 15-20% discount from their regular prices) 3-6 times a year. This is done either prepaid for that year or in installments when they ship (or, as we prefer to do, when we pick up our shipments). Small family owned wineries like Paradise Ridge rarely sell their wines to retail stores: they do not produce enough to benefit from volume sales. So wines that they produce are sold mostly to the club members and in their tasting rooms.

 

ParadizeWine haul from the Paradise Ridge Winery

 

Over years we went there dozens of times – just two of us, with local friends and with friends and relatives visiting from other states. We became… not friends but very good acquaintances with the wine maker and several people who worked at the Paradise Ridge winery. So we kept coming back for great wine, beautiful views and an improvised park with periodically changing strange metal sculptures – just a perfect setting to spend time walking and taking pictures in between visiting other wineries and doing more tasting. One of those sculptures became Paradise Ridge’s trademark (and I shared it with those who were here five years ago in one of my “postcard” posts).

 

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On October 9, when we heard about fires that broke out Sunday night in that region, my first thoughts went to Paradise Ridge and Sunce (our second most favorite winery). As always in such cases, at the same time there was too much and not enough information. I kept telling myself that what were the chances that the fire happens there? Moreover, Paradise Ridge was on the top of the hill, away from other houses and structures… Midday their Facebook page brought the news I feared: the winery completely burned down. I cried. It felt like a personal loss. Pictures below are from their Facebook page taken hours after the fire. You can see all the smoke in the air.

 

 

It was Monday last week. We didn’t know yet how bad the fire would get. Eleven days later, it’s about 80% contained. By estimate, so far it scorched more than 210,000 acres, burned 6,000 houses/buildings and killed at least 42 people, most of them elderly residents of the area who couldn’t evacuate in time – the fire moved extremely fast. 50 people are still considered missing, and about 20,000 people still didn’t return from the mandatory evacuation.

Official air quality in the area where I live (70 miles from the closest affected area) is back to green “Good” (from scary red “Unhealthy” last week) and it is “Moderate” in the area of fires. It a big catastrophe from which we will be recovering for months if not years to come.

When we hear or read about such events somewhere in the world, we sympathize and feel sad, on some level, but we do not feel it as acute as when it happens close to us or to somebody we actually know – and its normal, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to live and function in our age of communications, where every week brings bad news from somewhere, hopefully far-far away from us and people we love.

So while I predict bad fallout from this situation for the area and many-many people, I can’t help feeling relieved and rejoicing from (finally) good news: all people who I care about are fine: Paradise Ridge owner families are alive; Laurie Erikson (Sonoma Scent Studio) safely returned to her house and studio after a week of evacuation. And, according to the most recent reports, Paradise Ridge vineyard survived – so there will be crop next year.

 

SSS Samples

 

Drinking “boutique wines” is luxury (same as wearing perfumes), and we would have been fine with or without our favorite wines. But running wine business, same as producing artisan perfumes, is not a luxurious undertaking: it’s a lot of hard work and very low profitability (at least until a big brand comes and buys you out). So I’m happy not as much for the fact that we’ll get to enjoy Paradise Ridge wines or Sonoma Scent Studio perfumes but mostly that they will be able to keep creating them.

 

Rusty and Paradise Ridge Wines

 

As I’m finishing writing this post, it has started raining outside. It would have helped much more had it happened a week ago but I’m happy about this rain: it is time the Nature joined us in crying.

A Postcard from Undina: Dawes at Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Dawes at Gundlach Bundschu Winery

And now it seems like the unraveling has started too soon,
Now I’m sleeping in hallways and I’m drinking perfume
And I’m speaking to mirrors and I’m howling at moons
While the worse and the worse that it gets.

The only reason I’ve chosen that song and this quote, as it shouldn’t be hard to guess, was it mentioning perfume. Neither I share this song’s sentiment in my day-to-day life, nor it felt like that in the warmth of the October night on the winery courtyard while we were dancing to the music of Dawes and drinking… no, not perfume but a very nice Gundlach Bundschu Pinot Noir. We even got a couple of rain drops, which I tried to pitch to my vSO as a promise of an upcoming less dry winter – just to make him feel [even] better. I don’t think he bought it. But we both enjoyed the show and it was he who brought that perfume line to my attention (live rock performance isn’t the best way to listen to a song for the first time).

I like this acoustic performance of the song When My Time Comes much more – it’s more comprehensible.

Perfume for the night – Jo Malone Saffron. For an outdoor concert I could easily get away with a bolder choice but I had to be mindful of a friend who thinks she has issues with perfumes. So I dabbed just a little of it on my wrist. It was pleasant and didn’t clash with anything (or anybody). But I would definitely prefer it sprayed. With abandon.

Image: my own

Know-How: Perfumes for Wine Tasting

I’m lucky to live a car drive away from several great wine regions, which we enjoy visiting several times a year. Every time packing for the next trip I try to choose the right perfume(s) for the occasion.

Sonoma April 2014

So what perfume should you wear when going wine tasting? You shouldn’t.

That would have been one of the shortest posts I’ve ever published but I don’t plan stop there, I’ll elaborate.

If you are a normal regular person who can easily survive a day or two without wearing a perfume, you should definitely consider “going commando” (perfume-wise, of course) to wine tasting activities: wine aromas are very subtle and nuanced and can hardly compete with even the weakest perfume.

But if you’re a perfume addict like I am and staying off perfume completely feels like a cruel and unusual punishment, I’ll share with you a couple of ideas I came up with while thinking on that topic.

First of all, it’s important to choose the application spots strategically. I usually apply a couple of drops to the wrist of the non-dominant hand. This way I won’t inadvertently introduce the scent of my perfume to the wine I’m drinking but will be able to get a whiff of it any time I want. Based on the results for the question I posed in the post “Oh, TOES!! (for some people)” or Where to Apply Perfumes it will be a natural choice for at least 50% of my readers.

Rusty's Paw

Next – the choice of the perfume. While notes in perfumes are an abstract notion – they represent what a perfumer either actually put into it or wanted to recreate, wine notes are even more abstract. Since none of the ingredients are actually added to wines, all those “nuances of gooseberries”, “hint of apricots” and “touch of bell pepper aroma” are just a product of a complex interaction of soil minerals, grape varieties and barrel types.

The most common aromas I came across while reading wine descriptions were: grapefruit, cherry, apricot, cassis, raspberry, apple and blackberry. And it’s not even close to the extensive list of fruits, flowers and herbs that are used to describe wines! Also, as I learned from reading, oak barrels might add some vanilla, “baking spices” (very specific, right?) and coconut. Can I smell/taste them all? Maybe a hint of something. Sometimes. Maybe. Nevertheless, I tried to come up with perfumes that won’t clash with anything I might smell in wines.

Rusty and Flowering Tea

Tea notes – both black and green, including jasmine, should be fine: I don’t remember ever seeing any reference to tea when it came to wine. Aldehydes, amber, different types of woods (including agarwood), fig, saffron and leather should work as well. I’m not sure but I think some gourmands (those that are not vanilla heavy) would do. I’m not sure about flowers: I read about white flowers, violet, lavender and geranium as aromas associated with wines. A couple of months ago I would have said: “go with roses” but recently I came across wine from one of my favorite wineries SunceAleatico Dry that has a distinct rose note in it. Later I read that “Aleatico wines are characterized by the aroma of roses.

Wine Tasting at Sunce

Perfumes that I’ve successfully worn to wine tastings were L’Artisan Tea for Two, Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau, Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber, Black Vetyver Café and Saffron, NVC Ashoka and Ormonde Jayne Woman.

Are you a wine drinker? What perfume(s) do you think go well with wines?

 

Images: my own

A Postcard from Undina: More Love From Sonoma

Cat & Dog Wine Tasting

The weekend was great: warm, sunny and just perfect for a quick visit to Sonoma. The hardest part was not to wear any perfume: I had a hankering for vanilla perfumes recently, which were completely inappropriate for a wine tasting. But now I’m back and waft happily Spiritueuse Double Vanille (I need to get a decant of it!). My internal batteries and our wine cabinet got recharged but I’m hopelessly behind my blogs reading. But if you’re reading this I want to let you know: I’ll get to all of your posts.

Have a productive and fragrant week!

 

Undina

 

Image: a picture I took at one of the wineries. I think this is her site though I couldn’t find this picture anywhere online.

A Postcard from Undina: From Sonoma with LOVE

From Sonoma With Love

This is a view from the deck of one of my favorite wineries –  Paradise Ridge . It’s a great place to visit: they offer wine tasting (we like their wines enough to join their wine club) as well as great place for picnics with breathtaking views and a periodically changing collection of sculptures on the grounds for you to see, touch, climb on and take pictures of (like the one – LOVE – above).

Undina

 

Image: my own

MUFЯAP! MUFЯAP!

A couple of days before the New Year we went on our last in 2011 trip to Sonoma. Unlike our November trip, this time everything was as expected: naked or covered with brittle brown leaves vines, ripen persimmons on bare branches and grey sky. And “sparrows are flying again.” Well, I’m not sure what kind of birds those were (dark smudges on the picture below aren’t image artifact or dirty lens – those are flocks of birds flying together) but it was a mesmerizing spectacle. Usually we see those synchronized swooping and turning of birds en masse from a moving car window but this time we were on solid ground and were able to take a lot of pictures.

Birds in Sonoma

Since this time there were three families in our party, instead of a hotel we rented a private house. A welcome letter sent to us several days before our arrival explained how to get there and contained some instructions including:

The key is located in the home on the small table to the left of the door as you enter. Yes, we do keep the doors unlocked sometimes up here.

“On the small table…” Yes, that was where we found it once we arrived. We went through the house to figure out what was where and all of us got a strange feeling: it looked inhabited, as if owners had just stepped away to get something to eat and could be back any minute. No, there was no warm kettle on a stove or smoking cigarette in an ashtray, but there were bottles with wine on the kitchen counter, cheese in the fridge and a motorcycle in the garage. I even went outside to check again the house number.

MufrapWe were in the right house – a nice one, I should add, with spectacular views from windows, two fireplaces (one of them in a bedroom that I’d won in a coin toss) and a well stocked kitchen. A nice but a little strange house. And when my vSO noticed a white child’s dress in a plastic cover hanging in the empty closet we agreed it felt like we were in one of Stephen King’s novels.

The feeling has even increased when I discovered a tray with perfumes on a dresser in my bedroom and a display stand with perfume miniatures in one of the bathrooms. I thought that the house was tempting me.

Perfumes on a DresserNothing sinister had happened during our stay (if not to count that I got spooked in the morning when I opened blinds in our bedroom and saw an owl sitting on a balcony railing – a wooden one as I realized a second later). It was a very pleasant trip. We visited many great wineries (new find for us – deLorimier Winery), tried and bought some good wines (they’ve passed paw inspection by Rusty on our return) and I wore wonderful perfumes (Serge LutensJeux de Peau that I deemed wine-testing-friendly and brought with me for that purpose and Dior’s Dioressence from a vintage mini bottle in the bathroom of that strange house – it was still good, I enjoyed it in the evenings).

Rusty paw inspects wine bottles

I considered contacting owners with the offer to buy that mini bottle but decided against that: who knows how much spirits that live in that house feel attached to that PARFUM…

Images: my own