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Mandarina Corsica – warm summer nights and the smell of candied mandarins and immortelle

Photo Courtesy of L'Artisan Parfumeur

I have a very dear friend who lives in London. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like, and travel plans to meet up this summer have fallen through, so we came up with the idea to take ‘Scented Vacation’ together.

We both love fragrance, and we both own fragrances inspired by a place, so we thought we would travel to some of those places through scent. We settled on a week and then planned our perfume itinerary – where were we going to go?  We don’t have a lot of the same scents, so this was going to be a journey of discovery. We would report on our scented adventure at the end of the week over Zoom. Then we chose our fragrances, assigned each one to a day and emailed each other our lists.  After that, I set out my fragrances in order and waited for take-off on Monday when she was in Tokyo by way of Le Labo’s Gaiac 10 while I had a ticket to Corsica courtesy of Mandarina Corsica by L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Part of L’Artisan’s “Les Paysages” collection, which was inspired by French landscapes, Mandarina Corsica pays homage to Corsica, the French-owned island in the Mediterranean, which lies southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula.
According to the press release for Mandarina Corsica, nose Quentin Bisch ‘was marked by the sensation of tasting a candied tangerine, in Corsica. He was immediately struck by the contrast of textures and flavours on the tongue: at first, a hard sweet caramel shell, which, once broken, revealed all the contrasting facets of a “confit” tangerine, bitter-sweet, zesty yet soft like marmalade.’

Ten years ago, I would never have thought I would become a gourmand fragrance lover, but over the past few years, gourmand fragrances have evolved, and so have I, so when I tried Mandarina Corsica, I knew it was for me.

Corsica is renowned for its clementines, a cross between mandarin and orange tree flowers, and Mandarina Corsica has mandarin front and centre in every stage. It opens with a nose-tingling note of mandarin, floral and fresh, it’s flanked with tart bitter, orange. This is the smell of mandarin oranges, the tender sweet flesh and the bitter pith and peel. Within seconds, the fruits are caramelized with a note of brown sugar. The smell of candied mandarin dominates the heart, where tonka bean displays its chocolate facet and I the smell of chocolate-covered orange peel. The notes list Georgywood, a scent molecule created by Givaudan, it contributes a clean, woodiness that supports the mandarin beautifully. Mandarin dominates the base as well, where it is joined by immortelle.  Immortelle, which thrives in the Corsican scrubland, and is the perfect complement to the mandarin, after all, things that grow together, go together. It smells like maple syrup and keeps the candied orange present down to the drydown. But it also adds warmth and an herbaceousness that brings depth and dimension to the fragrance by rounding out the candied mandarin. Ambroxan, which to me smells skin-salty, gives me a sense of place – I’m by the sea.

The drydown is refined and sophisticated, as the citrus sweetness settles into a tender, warm skin scent that is perfect for men and women.

The L’Artisan website says that Mandarina Corsica ‘…evokes beautiful reminiscences of the Corsican landscape, particularly the early summer where the nights are heavy with warmth. San Giuliano, south of Bastia, an iconic ‘balcony’ village, many of which are scattered along the ridges of the landscape. There is a scent of citrus in the wind… this is where the fields of tangerine trees, which cool the hot, dry air, can be found.’ In Mandarins Corsica, Quentin Bisch captured the spirit of a time and place in a beautiful fragrance, but I’ll never really know until I go there and experience it for myself.

At the end of our scented vacation, a glass of wine in hand, we chatted over Zoom about the fragrances we tried in the past week. How we loved them all, how much we learned since we made the time to really explore them, and how much fun we had sharing what we had learned. Then, of course, the conversation turned to when we would next get together. I had an idea, ‘I’ve heard of a place called San Giuliano, south of Bastia, on Corsica it’s a ‘balcony’ village, where there the early summer where the nights are heavy with warmth a the scent of citrus in the wind…’

We’ve put it at the top of the list for the next time we meet, until then I have my bottle of Mandarina Corsica.

Mandarina Corsica is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.