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Balle de Match / L'Eau De Sport


Balle de Match / L'Eau De Sport was launched in 2002 by Parfums de Nicolaï/ Nicolaï Parfumeur Createur.

Confused? Let me help. Balle de Match was launched in 2002 by Parfums de Nicolaï. In 2014, the fragrance, and the company, changed their names, so now it’s L'Eau De Sport by Nicolaï Parfumeur Createur. Same juice, different name – get it? But I’m going to stick with its birth name: Balle de Match.

Balle de Match means ‘match point’ in English – the deciding point in a game of tennis. Tennis originated in 12th century northern France, from a game called “jeu de paume ("game of the palm") where a ball was batted to an opponent with the palm of the hand. Louis X of France was an ardent supporter of the game, and it grew in popularity. By the 16th century, racquets were being used and the game travelled to England where it was played indoors and called ‘real tennis’. Henry VIII of England was a keen player of the game. By the mid-1800’s the game moved outdoors, rules were codified and modern tennis was born.

Renaming Balle de Match to L'Eau De Sport to appeal to a broader market is good if it sells more juice (after all, we all want the line to survive and thrive) but tennis, the sport of kings, is a classy game and Balle de Match is a classy frag and shouldn’t be thrown in to the men’s sport fragrance category.

It opens, with bright lemon and tart, sharp, juicy grapefruit. Here’s the thing: I love citrus notes, but they can make my teeth itch when they’re synthetic – too harsh, bitter and acidic. In Balle de Match they’re invigorating, refreshing and true and give a beautiful start to the composition. The citrus profile doesn’t fade, but travels to the heart of pink peppercorns and juniper berries. Pink peppercorns add a peppery warmth and their rosy, floral aspect adds complexity and dimension to the EdT. The fragrant juniper berries are piney, resinous and green: the classic gin note. Their citrus aspect slouches against the grapefruit, heightening it. I smell a Pimm’s Cup - piquant, fresh and bracing. The citrus softens as it gets to the base where patchouli adds a woody earthiness and oakmoss gives it a mossy, foresty feel. Incense is here too, smoky and a little sweet, it wafts up from my skin through the fragrance.

The drydown is crisp and refined with very little sweetness. It is an extraordinary fragrance not a sweaty/smelly sporty man scent, so it is perfectly unisex. Game, set, match I say.

Balle de Match was inspired by tennis, or even cricket, games played outside on long summer days, on perfectly mown lawns, that unfold over time without a clock or a timer. This summer scent makes me want to wear white, be outside on a deck or by a pool or at a picnic, and have Pimm’s Cup close by.

Notes: lemon, grapefruit, pink peppercorns, juniper berries, patchouli, oak moss and incense

Type: EdT

Parfumeuer: Patricia de Nicolaï.

Price: $5.00