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It’s All In The Nose

Has the world gone mad? Not necessarily so. Ginestet has launched the sale of 3 perfumes very successfully. This all came about when Christian Delpeuch the Managing Director of Ginestet Wine Merchants in Bordeaux met Gilles Toledano, Perfumier of Florescence Perfume in Grâves.

They discovered that their respective professions and passions held a lot in common. Both wine and perfume uphold the notion of “terroir”; both need careful harvesting at maturity to gain the optimum quality and final aroma, both use a process of transformation – from grape to wine and from flower petal to essence, both undergo olfactory research, both rely on the oenologist and his nose and both are stringently monitored for health – allergens in perfumes and food safety in wine.

They decided to take 3 major wines from Bordeaux, a dry white wine, a Sauternes and a red, and send them to the Bordeaux Oenology facility in order to discover the primary molecules. The results were then sent to the Florescence Perfumery to create the essence. Three eau de toilettes were made:

Botrytis

“Recalls a great Sauternes in its sparkling, autumnal silk rose. Honey, candied fruits, quince and gingerbread jostle and whisper sweet nothings”

Le Boisé

“Pays homage to the oak and that combination of matter, skill and know-how. The light vanilla touch of the oak delicately melds with the finest of spices.”

Sauvignonne

“Grapefruit, white peach and box tree aromas.”

The perfumes are faithful to Bordeaux wine in that Sauvignonne has light green tints typical of a dry white wine. Botrytis is slightly amber in colour similar to that of a Sauternes and Le Boisé is sold in a tinted bottle.
I am trying to be very restrained in what I say. Let me put it this way: I would rather drink a wine than wear it.

I wonder what the “Cybernose” would make if it? Cybernose is an invention by scientists from Australia’s federal government science and technology research organisation (CSIRO). It uses drosophila (fruit flys) and nematode (microscopic worms) genes to mimic that organism’s keen sense of smell. Both these creatures are finely tuned to pick out odours in fermentation, the fruit fly lays its eggs on fruit and the nematodes live on bacteria in compost and soil.

The sensitive Cybernose will mimic the action of protein receptors at the front of the nose, which humans and mammals use to detect smell. It is being developed for viticulture where the ability to measure flavour depends on identifying which chemical molecules are present in grapes and wine.

Stephen Trowell, the lead researcher says;

“These chemicals arise naturally, they come from the grapes themselves, they are released during the fermentation process and also during the aging process. They are volatile – which means small amounts of them evaporate into the air above the wine. This will measure, right from the start, the entire process, as it’s harvested, crushed and fermented.”

Not only am I slightly affronted at having my noble hooter compared to that of a fly or a worm it worries me that the aroma in wine means different things to us fellow creatures. I have no urge to lay eggs on fruit or hunt out decaying vegetable matter. It worries me further that our precious individuality may succumb to a new generic law dictated by machines. Our sense of smell is particular to own developed tastes and that’s how our wine should be. Chosen by an individual for its own individuality.

Images Courtesy of www.yotophoto.com and www.flickr.com

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Heaven Scent

The Grape Vine has a multitude of uses – more than I thought to be quite honest! The principle one, in my humble opinion, has been the wine it produces….however it is used in a plethora of different ways.

The leaves are preserved in brine and used to parcel fillings, such as minced meat, fish and rice (Dolmades). The fruits are made into wine, vinegar, juice and jelly. Dried fruits are known as currants, raisins and sultanas according to their variety. Seeds yield a polyunsaturated oil, suitable for mayonnaise and cooking, especially frying. Cream of Tartar or potassium bitartrate, a crystalline salt, is extracted from the residue of pressed grapes known as ‘marc’ and the sediment of wine barrels. It is used in baking powders, laxatives and soldering fluxes.

The Vine’s latest use is now in Soap!!!

A company called “The Curly Vine” has been reported in The Independent, Saturday 03.06.06 as making wine soaps:

“Handcrafted using a cold press method combining wine lees, selected oils and rain water. Essential oils have been added to the soaps, so Chardonnay is perfumed with Lime Oil, Cabernet Sauvignon with Eucalyptus and Shiraz with Vanilla. The soaps retain glycerine and are blended with Olive Oil for deep skin moisturising.”

This is all a long, long way from how soap was traditionally made. I was reading John Seymour’s “The Forgotten Arts” and was drawn into his description of soap making, which I shall recount for you. John Seymour is the expert on self sufficiency and is a celebrated advocate of a return to life on the land. His book “The Forgotten Arts” is spiced with anecdotes from his encounters with working craftspeople in different parts of the world:

“I was forced to shoot a lion because it was eating domestic animals, and my employer’s mother stripped all the fat off the carcass and made soap out of it. Ostriches, which, like male lions, also tend to chubbiness, are much sought after for this purpose as well…

I am not suggesting that ostriches or lions should be bred specifically for making soap, or hunted either. I am simply trying to illustrate the undeniable fact that soap is simply fat, which surprisingly is classified chemically as an acid, neutralized by an alkali…

Everybody who has been camping knows that if you take some of the ashes from your camp fire and mix them into the fat in your frying pan, they clean the pan surprisingly easily. This is because you have made soap.”

Traditionally, in the UK, the fat used to make soap were beef (tallow), sheep and pig (lard). Not a very enticing recipe compared to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz! And I bet it didn’t smell as good!

Images Courtesy of www.yotophoto.com and www.flickr.com

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Cognac Cologne

Gone are the days when a splash of Old Spice or a quick squirt of Brut would do. These days we are expected to go one step further as the “modern man ”. Bling has overtaken the Yuppy and we all need to catch up!

Courvoisier are launching its own men’s fragrance, “Courvoisier L’edition Imperiale.” The line will target 25-35 year old males who are more likely to be high-earning and successful. In the words of the Beam Global (who own Courvoisier), that will be individuals ‘who are ambitious, determined and desire to succeed’.

Considering that Courvoisier was immortalised in the 2002 hip-hop hit “Pass The Courvoisier” by Busta Rhymes featuring P Diddy, I think that they are merely jumping on the back of the “bling” band wagon. 60% of Courvoisier’s sales are to its American-African fans. That’s quite a turn around for a Cognac famed as being Napoleon’s favourite tipple which is now becoming a cult favourite – and a perfume to boot.

Courvoisier is not the first to produce a “cognac perfume”, as has been claimed in various circles. It will doubtless not be the last. The world’s first “cognac perfume” was launched in 2002. It is called 1270, after the year when the Frapin family established itself in Cognac, since when, for generations it has produced some of the finest Grande Champagne Premier Cru Cognacs. It was created by Beatrice Cointreau, managing director of Cognac Frapin and great grand-daughter of Pierre Frapin. (I can understand why they called it 1270 and not Eau d’Frapin!)

Beam is launching the cologne in the U.S., the U.K., Russia and China. Kraft is handling the design, manufacturing and distribution. The company believes that, while appealing in particular to fans of the cognac, it will also appeal to ‘fine fragrance connoisseurs everywhere.’ Hmmmn. I smell something – and it is definitely not Cognac!

The company has not yet signed any deals with retailers, but Paul Baron, vice-president of marketing and brand development for Kraft, said he is targeting luxury department stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

The companies are introducing the cologne in Cannes, France. Beam has declined to say how much they have invested in the launch. The global market for premium men‘s fragrances is about $5.5 billion a year and growing. Courvoisier is the best-selling Cognac in the U.K. and is No. 3 in the United States behind LVMH’s Hennessy and Remy Cointreau’s Remy Martin.
Kraft describes L’edition Imperiale as a woody oriental, reminiscent of the barrels used to age the Cognac, surrounded by a hint of flowers which represent the grapes used to make the brandy, which comes from France’s Cognac region.

Well, apparently the new line is not a Cognac-flavoured fragrance as it contains some of the finest and most popular perfume ingredients, including notes of cardamom, mandarin, tagette and coriander. Mid notes include atlas cedarwood, smoked tea, royal calla lily and violet, while the dry down contains vetiver, fir balsam, leather and warm amber. Holding true to the brand’s 200 plus years of heritage, all Courvoisier fragrances are produced in France. This is quite reassuring as I had been wondering at the effect a Cognac scented perfume would have on these 25-35 year old ambitious and determined males. Just imagine, you’re driving back from work and are stopped by a police officer. He says you stink of booze and you say “But no, Officer, it’s my perfume!”

The company says that the eau de parfum will retail for more than $100 (€80) per 75ml bottle while the eau de toilette will retail for slightly lower than $100 USD per 75ml bottle. Both of the fragrances will also be available in 125ml bottles.

I wonder what will be next? Beam also makes Jim Beam Bourbon and Sauza Tequila. Will we be seeing these as novelty perfumes for the “bling market” in the future? Personally I think it is a fad. Foodstuffs do not usually make the leap into non-edible products. A few years back, international duty-free shops sold a promotional fragrance inspired by Bombay Sapphire Gin, called Infusion, using some of the same ingredients found in Gin (mainly Juniper berries I presume). Anyone heard of it? No, I didn’t think so…

Images Courtesy of: http://www.yotophoto.com/, http://www.flickr.com/, http://www.morguefile.com/

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Chocolate Delight

Vinotherapy has been around for some time now and is rapidly growing in popularity. The proven health benefits of proanthocyanidins (PCOs) give Vinotherapy its legitimacy. PCOs are the active component of polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. http://www.decanter.com/ has reported that The Vineyard at Stockcross in Berkshire is pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the luxury pampering market in its newly-opened Spa. They already offer anti-ageing masks made from Chardonnay grapes and are now releasing ‘Choco Therapy’ and “Truffle Therapy”, both of which it is claimed have rejuvenating properties.

These therapies (ISHI Elements) have been developed by Dr Davide Antichi, owner and director of Italian Skincare Institute Dafla. Founded 25 years ago, the Dafla Group specialises in the professional well-being and cosmetic sector. Red wine, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, is high in polyphenols. Polyphenols, like aspirin, vitamin C and other natural products, thin the blood, reducing artery thickening and thereby reducing the danger of heart disease. Professor Joseph Vercauteren of the Department of Pharmacology at Bordeaux University pioneered the idea that grape skins and seeds – left after fermentation – could have as beneficial an effect on the skin as on the heart.

For more than two thousand years, wine was the only available antiseptic and during the early part of the 19th Century it was indispensable for medicine until other disinfectants such as phenols were discovered. It was, in fact, Hippocrates (born in 460 BC) who used wine in remedies for nearly every ailment, from fever to diuretic. The Romans also used it, to clean soldiers and gladiators wounds, preserve food and of course banish anxiety.
The first testimonies relating to beauty masks being made using grapes, clay and incense date back to Egyptian women at least 2000 years BC. It was Galeno, however, who first recommended grapes as a suitable remedy to improve the complexion. There is also written evidence that the Ancient Greeks used grapes for beauty purposes, to cleanse the skin and make it smooth.
Louis XIV introduced wine in his court due to ‘it’s healing properties and as it exalts beauty and improves facial features and complexion’. It was commonly discussed during the 19th Century how Grape Must was used to prepare masks and compresses for the face and neck.
Chocolate too can claim a variety of beneficial effects. Also high in polyphenols, it contains demineralising agents, as much phosphorous as found in fish, and emulsions. Whether rubbing chocolate on the skin has any health benefits is unproven, but a joint study by scientists from universities in Glasgow and Rome in 2002 found that 100g of plain chocolate boosted blood antioxidant levels by nearly 20%.
People began drinking chocolate in the tropical regions of South America, where for thousands of years the cocoa tree grew wild, and for which the Indians valued its properties. The Toltecs and Incas were familiar with the cocoa tree, however, it was the Mayans who successfully cultivated it and developed thriving business from plantations in the Yucatan. Nevertheless the real story of chocolate begins with the Aztecs as the cocoa bean was, in fact, the monetary currency of the Aztecs and the grilled seeds were ground to prepare a drink called ‘xocolatl’ which today is known as chocolate.
The first European encounter with cocoa was when Columbus ran into a Mayan trading canoe that was carrying cocoa beans! In 1502 Columbus returned to Spain, however, it was not until twenty years later that the last Aztec Emperor showed the Spaniards how to drink ‘xocolatl’ – a beverage that was considered invigorating and useful to combat fatigue.
The Choco Therapy face and body treatments tone by stimulating natural drainage and combating cellulite. The chocolate’s ingredients nourish the skin, prevent dehydration and reduce the effects of ageing. Apparently this specific range is also highly recommended for men to nourish the skin after shaving. Hmmn – I am not too sure about that. I don’t want to end up with egg on my face, let alone chocolate!
According to the Spa’s publicity, the Truffle Therapy Facial is known in Hollywood as “party botox” for its skin-toning effects, while covering the body in chocolate products and massaging for two hours “guarantees inch loss”. Really? I wonder if Sue can be convinced to rub me with truffles in an effort to shed the pounds I put on over Christmas?
Juvenal reckoned the truffle was the fruit of the lightning thrown by Jupiter near an oak, the sacred tree of the father of Gods. Jupiter was also famous for its prodigious sexual activity, for this reason the truffle is characterised by aphrodisiac qualities. In fact among the ancient Greeks the use of stimulating foods was widespread: during the Dionysian festivals, for example, the Truffle is eaten together with eggs, honey, and shellfish in honour to Venus.

As to the renowned erotic properties of the truffle, a hormonal effect seems to consist in its strong smell. With time the science has made clear that the aphrodisiac effects of truffle are attached to the presence of fragrant substances that act at an olfactory level, not only in certain animals but also in man, by stimulating a particular reawakening sense. Besides its fragrance, it has been discovered that the truffle also acts through its aphrodisiac power at a metabolic level, since it is very rich in landrostenione, a substance that slow down the production of serotonin and then gives serenity and calmness of senses.
Personally I’d rather eat them (and the chocolate) but you never know if I start looking youthful and regenerated you’ll know Sue has convinced me to give it a go . . .