Review: Guerlain Pamplelune — 5.0 points

All this time I had viewed the slightly tinted juices of the Aqua Allegoria series packaged in simple bottles as variations on a theme of flowers and fruits. That they were no more than pleasant eaux de cologne had been my impression all along, and I had not been curious about them. But when I first tried Pamplelune (Guerlain, 1999) by perfumer Mathilde Laurent, such prejudice was quickly banished. Already, its perverse opening of sulphurous acridity and wonderfully tart bergamot makes a clear statement: Pamplelune is not your typical sweet and pleasant tutti-frutti.

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At its heart is one-of-a-kind grapefruit accord replete with furious pungency, citrusy tang, and bubbly delight. It is built around 20% lemon oil and 14% orange oil. Neroli and petitgrain lend their spicy and floral accent. But what I find most intriguing is the tart blackcurrant buds. Its green, fruity-leafy note and lasting power imbue Pamplelune with a unique character. The fresh tartness of its citrus never seems to fade.

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As the effervescence calms, Pamplelune turns woody and sensual with patchouli and vanilla. The camphoraceous woods and sweetness provide diffusion and a nice contrasting aspect. The lasting dry down of tart citrus versus earthy woods is an interesting change from the more typical musky finish. And, more importantly, there is no fruit syrup here.

I admire Pamplelune for its distinctive bites in the top and the powerful refreshing effect of blackcurrant buds. To top that off, its vats of citrus oils give Pamplelune a natural complexity. Its grapefruit is simply inimitable.

Sources: guerlain.fr, Scent and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odors

Review: Guerlain Pera Granita — 3.0 points

Next in the series of Aqua Allegoria is Pera Granita (Guerlain, 2016) by in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser. ‘Pear granita’ references the Sicilian ice-based dessert known as granita siciliana. It is similar to sorbet, but has a rougher mouthfeel due to the crystalline texture of the ice. So, pear sorbet is as close as the name Pera Granita could be interpreted. And, Pera Granita, though not peculiarly Sicilian or fastidious about its texture, fulfils its promise of a sweet and sour treat.

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Its tart pear introduction is juicy with drizzles of lemonade.  The accord is quickly backed by blooming florals. Amongst others, the sweet apricot note of osmanthus and the sensual roundness of orange blossom come to my mind. Pera Granita seems to strike the balance between tart fruits and florals. But, sadly, the pear top fades all too quickly, leaving only its tangy after-taste. What remains is a lemony, rosy accord with musks. In the late stages, the balance is tipped to the sweet musky side. It is quite nicely done, but not very exciting.

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If anything, I wish the tart pear were more long-lasting and with more interesting support as in the case of Pamplelune (Guerlain, 1999). However, Pera Granita is just as a pear sorbet should be. It has to be sweet and it does just that, with some sliver of natural complexity to refine the fruity-floral composition. And, whilst I would not be asking for poached pear in red wine with cinnamon and anise from this Aqua Allegoria, I would enjoy it more if there were more pear purée to keep the cheerful sweetness company.

Nonetheless, I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone just entering the world of perfume. Pera Granita can give the pleasures of being perfumed without a single thought to it. It requires no acquired taste for the animalic funks, the leathery whips, or the mossy roughness. One can enjoy the triviality and the carefree light-heartedness on the route of a Guerlain before one finds the way to the Guerlinade of Shalimar (Guerlain, 1925).

Sources: allure.ru, greenbeverages.com