For those of you who have been around a while, you know I’ve had a few fougères in my past. La Forêt de Liguest was meant to echo the rich forests of the bend in the Mississippi River that would become Saint Louis, a rich, dense and sweet fougère. Sylva, however, was bright, green and sharp, the smell of a clearing on a hot summer morning where the sun visciously beating down on the dew brings out the most bright green notes.
Now, with the third visit to the fougère genre, I have created a fougère that contradicts the traditional, classic fougère with a new take on it. Which is only fitting since Weinstrasse is an homage to the Missouri Rhineland, where Germans emigrated because the fertile soil along the banks of the Missouri River was so reminiscent of the Rhineland they left behind, and where they started a new life and built a new Weinstrasse. The Missouri Rhineland is a new start, a reimagined take on a historic region, just like Weinstrasse both recreates and reimagines the classic fougère.
My maternal family was part of this population, and so history repeats itself in three aspects in this third fougère, one that I believe will be the one I want to leave etched into the history of Chatillon Lux.
Wine on the Vine
At the top of the fragrance is a white grape note. The star of this note is green cognac essential oil, a tart, crisp white grape note that is reminiscent of a bite of a grape off the vine. This is complemented by black currant bud absolute, a note that is also tart but less mouth-puckeringly so. There is also a touch of leaf alcohol, a green, freshly cut grass note. But not the smell of grass in the air. Rather, if you get down on your hands and knees to smell the still-wounded-and-oozing blades after they’ve been cut back down to size. Finally, the sweet, juicy green of violet leaf absolute rounds out this accord.
A Green, Honeyed Bouquet
While in a traditional fougère you would often expect to find geranium as featured floral, in Weinstrasse it takes a back seat to the honeyed bouquet that really sets this fragrance apart. The main accord is composed of helichrysum absolute, a complex floral note that has an inkling towards honeyed tobacco. To offset that, I created a honeysuckle accord that is only somewhat similar to the one I created for Gloria, with this honeysuckle accord taking a cue from the berry and fruity notes of damascenone that isn’t normally associated with honeysuckle. Since honeysuckle can be considered a distant relative to rose, and in order to juxtapose the note with helichrysum, I injected this curveball into the mix to add some fruitiness to the honeyed floral bouquet. Throughout St. Louis, all summer long, I smell honeysuckle in bloom, and I wanted to express more of the ambient smell that I found in the mornings, when the dew is still fresh and the scent is most robust.
This is another area in which I find the black currant bud absolute really helps balance out the accord, with its tart fruitiness, in addition to pyroprunat, a favorite of mine for microdosing to impart its dried-fruit/stone-fruit vibe. Adding in the sweet, silky iris accord riding on a mélange of inones, heliotrope and orinox (a somewhat floral, somewhat resinous note) developed expressly for this fragrance further adds to the sweet symphony of this bouquet.
A Rich, Full Base
I went into this knowing that I needed to make the most rich, full base in order to get the thick, lush vibe that I wanted out of Weinstrasse. Of course, in any fougère, there is a healthy dose of coumarin, a sweet note often associated with a tobacco and hay note with a touch of creaminess. This creaminess is enhanced with bicycolononalactone, another creamy note that I find adds sophistication and depth to coumarin, and a sandalwood accord used with the most creamy sandalwood molecule that I found worked within the accord: bacdanol, a beautiful note that is reminiscent of the highly coveted santalol beta, to complete the melance of woody creaminess.
Additionally, for the oakmoss note I used veramoss, a soapy note that projects the higher frequency notes of oakmoss, in addition to a small dose of atranol-free, IFRA-compliant oakmoss absolute that adds the lush, musky greenery that only true oakmoss can provide without risking the skin allergies.
To further round out the base notes, an array of musks, used very sparingly, reinforce that traditional charge led by oakmoss. Dark-aged patchouli, a less sharp and more earthy, rich and full patchouli, is microdosed to exalt the ambrettolide, a nutty tobacco note; muscone, a sweet, somewhat animalic musk; and habanolide, a fresh musk with a twist that brings out the soapiness of oakmoss. It’s all further enhanced by the mushroom-type scent of a small dose of amyl vinyl carbinol.
Weinstrasse is finally the fouère that I always wanted to make but I had never found the key to unlocking my full inspiration until now. I am excited to bring the scent that CaFleureBon described as, “so startlingly different, so strangely beautiful, that my mind doesn’t quite know how to process it for a few moments.”