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Eau de rhubarbe écarlate - Tangy and tart, smooth as custard - July 29, 2017

Eau de rhubarbe écarlate bottle - usa.hermes.com

I like uncomplicated simple meals in the summer, fresh veggies and herbs in salads, lots of crunch and tang added to the mix from nuts and or a bit of cheese.  Berries or stone fruits with ice cream for dessert. Easy-peasy to make, delicious to eat. Light and simple.

I guess that’s why I like colognes in hot weather. They’re uncomplicated, too. Usually a fresh citrus note is the star, accented with some herb and floral notes to sweeten, and a wood note to round out the dry-down. It’s all over in a couple of hours, and then its time for another few cooling spritzes. It’s my hot weather ritual.

Last year my favourite cologne was Eau Dynamisante by Clarins, an incredibly fresh and cooling herbal scent, and this summer my favourite cologne is the perfectly non-gendered Eau de rhubarbe écarlate, or Scarlet Rhubarb in English, by Christine Nagel for Hèrmes. Ms. Nagel recently took over from Jean-Claude Ellena as House Perfumer  for Hèrmes, and we list many of her brilliant scents in our Decant Store.

She says on the Hèrmes website: "I’ve always loved the duality of rhubarb. A double duality: visual and olfactory. The green colour metamorphoses into red. Starting acidic and crisp, its smell becomes smooth and velvety.”

I’ve always loved the rhubarb note, too. I have very clear childhood memories of my sister and me picking the crunchy red and green stalks with the big floppy leaves so my mother would make rhubarb pie. We would each save a stalk for ourselves to chew on, screwing up our courage for the first bite, anticipating that incredible tart sour acidic juice that sucked all the moisture out of our tongues and made our eyes roll. How could something that tasted so sour when raw be transformed into something that tasted and smelled so delicious when cooked? My seven–year-old brain boggled, the taste and smell locked into my consciousness forever.

The bottle which holds Eau de rhubarbe écarlate is the most beautiful rich rhubarb-red glass, and the scent that rushes out with the first spritz is beautiful rhubarb green. It is vegetal, sappy, savoury, citrusy, all in one sniff. It is definitely rhubarb, bold and beautiful. But soon the green gives way to red rhubarb as red berries are added, raspberries rather than strawberries, I think, and the rhubarb note transforms to the deliciousness of stewed fruit rather than raw fruit. Sweetened, cooled, and accompanied with smooth velvety custard, which is represented in Rhubarbe écarlate by soft rounded notes of musk, this refined scent finishes with a mellow radiance.

Eau de rhubarbe écarlate is not complicated. The listed notes are rhubarb, red berries, and white musks. It’s also not like a traditional cologne, which start strong and citrusy and then quickly fade away into a distant memory. Eau de rhubarbe écarlate is tart and tangy and bold up top, but because of the power of the white musk notes used by Christie Nagel, it retains surprising depth even as the scent softens in the lingering dry-down, and the refreshing rhubarb note is there right till the very end, a little sweeter, a little softer but distinctively rhubarb.

Last year herbal cologne, this year rhubarb cologne. Next year? I dunno, I just may give up the perpetual summer cologne quest because Eau de rhubarbe écarlate is, I think, just about perfect.

Eau de rhubarbe ecarlate is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.