Blog post by Gwen

Cuore di Pepe Nero – citrusy and spicy and woody

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Sometimes you find the most interesting things when you aren’t looking for them. Case in point: I am in Tuscany, enjoying the Tuscan sun, when I get an email from my sister asking me to pick her up some of her favourite face cream. It’s called Crema Viso Idratante Elisir D'Olivo from Erbario Toscano. Seems a friend had given her a jar for Christmas and now she wants more and since I’m in Italy…. I’m always happy to help a sister, so I put the Crema Viso Idratante Elisir D'Olivo on my list of things to buy when I go to Florence.  

Then, by chance, I came across an Erbario Toscano store in San Gimignano. What was meant to be a grab-and-go turned into an hour of smelling, sampling and lingering over their gorgeous soaps, diffusers, creams, and fragrances. From the brochures in the shop, I learned that their products are handcrafted, made with traditional Tuscan ingredients and that their perfumes are 100% natural. I came away with the Crema, some soaps and my husband bought a bottle of Cuore di Pepe Nero. I stuffed the Erbario Toscano bag into my purse and off we went.

When we when got back to the hotel, we had a couple of questions for the concierge. Standing before him at the front desk, he noticed the Erbario Toscano bag peeking out of my purse and said “I see you are a true Tuscan!” I gave him a puzzled look. In perfect English, he said, “The Erbario Toscano.” “Oh,” I said, “Just some souvenirs of Tuscany to take home.” “These products aren’t just for tourists,” he said. “My wife uses their body creams. Have you tried their perfumes? Their Cuore di Pepe Nero is a special favourite. A cult favourite among cognoscenti as you say in English.” My husband flushed with pride. “Look at me, I’m part of the cognoscenti,” he said when we were alone in the elevator.

The next morning, I tried the Cuore di Pepe Nero. Yes, it’s listed as man’s fragrance, but if my husband hadn’t bought a bottle of it, I would have bought one for myself.

‘Cuore di Pepe Nero’ translates as ‘Heart of Black Pepper’. The Erbario Toscano website cites the inspiration for the fragrance: “At dawn during a walk on the docks of a sea facing the Orient, among the scents of spices brought by the wind, black pepper fills the air of life and energy… Black Pepper, forever renown as the "King of spices", has an intense captivating fragrance. It’s warm and sensual tones give a pleasant sensation of wellbeing.”

Cuore di Pepe Nero opens with fresh, vibrant notes of lemon and grapefruit. It feels invigorating. The citrus is soon joined by rose hips, which add a floral fruitiness to top.  It’s not long before black pepper seeps in, spicing everything up with a voluptuous warmth. As it blooms, sweet, indolic, jasmine makes an appearance, stirring memories, real or imagined, of foreign lands. Magnolia echoes the lemon at the opening, while adding a lushness. Cedarwood gives Cuore di Pepe Nero a gorgeous woody spine for the flowers to rest on. And then there’s the black pepper, strong and spicy, it radiates through the fragrance. Combined with the woodiness of the cedar, it could drag the whole works into darkness, but the lemon/floral presence keeps it on the bright side while the pepper to provides a hum of sensual, spicy warmth. At the base, the woodiness is carried over by patchouli, vetiver and oakmoss, while amber sweetens it just so. But that spiciness? It lingers on the skin through to the drydown.

One of the things I like most about Cuore di Pepe Nero is how it isn’t over processed and with the notes smoothed out beyond recognition. It smells real, and really, really good.

I’m pretty pleased with my Tuscan purchases. I know my sister will be happy to have the Crema Viso Idratante Elisir D'Olivo. Well, at least until she smells the Cuore di Pepe Nero and realizes she wants that too.

Check out Cuore di Pepe Nero in our shop.