Saturday, December 5, 2009

What to Wear When Crushing Grapes

Wine columnist Neil Pendock—who bills himself as South Africa’s leading independent drinks commentator—is big on olfaction. Smelling is key to his craft but Pendock is a bit of a perfume head as well.

He recently surveyed fourteen South African winemakers about their personal fragrance preference and reports the results in his latest, typically rambling and fascinating column. Half the vintners use a single brand, three of them (21%) use two or three scents, and another four (28%) wear nothing at all. The proportion of abstainers seems a bit higher than in the average consumer population. But when you’re sniffing and tasting all day long cologne can be a distraction—the same reason a lot of people in the fragrance business don’t wear scent to work. As for the preferred brands, they sound pretty mainstream.

Hmm . . . what happens when you cross the streams? Of perfume and wine, that is. A famous winemaker certainly has more sensory cred than your B-list celebrity. A Baron Philippe de Rothschild cologne might have been a classic. Or a Robert Mondavi aftershave. There must be a brand-worthy celebrity winemaker somewhere in the Napa Valley.


Nathan Branch said...

Avery -- there are several cognac families involved in the fragrance business (Hennessey and Frapin spring to mind), but the only winery inspired fragrance house I know of is Ginestet, a French winery that released a couple of fragrances inspired by the flavors of wines: Botrytis, Le Boisé and Sauvignonne.

I agree that Napa is a region that's begging for a couple of great fragrances to emerge. For example, I'd snap up a bold, lushly berried Screaming Eagle EDP in a heartbeat.

But there are other cult wineries with perfume-ready names: Diamond Creek, Pine Ridge, Silverado, Cakebread.

Again, I think you're on to something. Between offering your services to help create and launch a Sarah Palin fragrance, plus initiating the first ever Napa Valley perfume club, you could be stinking up the planet with glee! ;)

Tania said...

I sniffed Ginestet's Botrytis the other day - a very nice boozy gourmand.
I'm trying to think which winery I'd like to try a scent from. I wish I could remember the name of the little one I visited which had goats wandering outside it's wooden shack of a vistor's centre! (It was featured in the movie 'Sideways'). I imagine their perfume would be quirky.
As for Napa Valley in general, there was a scent called Cielo by Napa Valley Perfumes, designed by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. It's delicious, all honey, fig and Napa Valley air.

Avery Gilbert said...


I should have known there already are wine-linked scents--and that you'd have them at your fingertips.

There is brand equity in winery names. Combine that with a spokesvinter and we might have something.

Not sure about branding "Botrytis"; is Noble Rot really a the way to start? How about Rutherford Dust for a little local imagery? Or Big Zin?

Avery Gilbert said...


It would be fun to systematically explore the cross-marketing perfume potential in wine aroma notes:

cherry, blackberry, oak, strawberry jam, black pepper, grapefruit, etc.

Perfume was probably more fun when you could drink the alcohol.

Sideways had its moments, although being from California I sort of gagged on the gauzy sunsets with accordian music.

Has there been a cinematic portrayal of perfumery? (Other than the Suskind thing.)