Skip to main content

Espelette - Hot! Hot! Hot! - (September 2, 2011 New Fragrance Listing)

Photo - Wikipedia - AOC -  Piment d'Espelette - 2008-08-05

I discovered Christian Louis fragrances on-line and was fascinated by his story, so Gwen and I made certain we visited his Paris shop, Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque, when we made our perfume tour last year. What a find! - read our earlier posts on two of his scents, Vive l’Empereur and 18 Place des Vosges.

Wednesday’s Nose-to-Nose story, Just Peachy, about the ants and the peach jam jogged my memory, and led me back to one of the three Christian Louis scents I’d purchased, Espelette, which lists peach as one of the heart notes. I never got the peach before when wearing Espelette, but after living and breathing peach scent for the last few days, now I do.   But, as always with scents, it’s peach with... something else.

This "something else" is  - HOT CHILI PEPPERS. Espelette is a small town of about two thousand people in the Basque region of France, in the mountainous south –west corner of France, bordered by Spain. The town is known for its dried red peppers, which are used to make famous  Bayonne ham, and the peppers are so valued they have been designated as Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée by the French government, which identifies them as a kind of national treasure, like the vines in their world-famous vineyards. During the summer, strings of the red peppers are hung to dry outside many of the houses and shops in the town, and the last Sunday in October is the Chilli Festival.

Photo - Wikipedia - Espelette - Piments sur façade 2008-08-05

At the top, right out of the cool aluminum bottle, Espelette is HOT! Chili pepper, black pepper, spicy and aromatic, becoming even spicier as cardamom kicks in. It’s wonderfully dry but loaded with sensation. After 10 minutes or so, the sweeter notes start to appear – peach and ylang-ylang - but it’s a fresh juicy peachy sweet rather than jammy sweet, which makes the scent float rather than settle. The spicy, light fruit notes are delicious.

The dry-down sends Espelette into darker territory, pulling it out of the air and bringing it down to earth. Smoky sandalwood becomes creamy with musk and vanilla, and patchouli adds an earthy quality. The scent is still spicy but now has a warmth to it with a soft sweetness, and the sillage is perfection - peppery, with a kind of seductive quirkiness that lifts noses and gets people asking “What are you wearing?” 

I just smile and say “Espelette” and leave it at that, because who would believe that I’m wearing hot peppers and peaches?

Today, we’re adding Espelette to our decant sample offering, Decants are $5.00.

Note: The Christian Louis line is not available in North America.