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Vaniglia Piccante – sweet and spicy and woody

Image - Vanilla planifolia - wikipedia

Vanilla-centric fragrances are having a very long moment in the perfume world, and I couldn't be happier! I wasn't always a fan of the "little pod." Sure, just about every perfume has some vanilla in it. For example, paired with amber, it becomes the reference note for the Oriental family of scents - think Shalimar. But vanilla in a starring role? Hmmm. I wondered, I worried, I was wary, and I wavered.  Well, dear reader, I was wrong. My thinking changed when I sniffed another Guerlain fragrance, Spirituese Double Vanille the very first time. This was not the cloying, sickly sweet vanilla that I feared – this was a multi-faceted, earthy vanilla that opened the door to a new kind of vanilla, and I walked right through that door! Vanilla is such a complex ingredient that the perfume possibilities are endless. This brings me to my latest vanilla obsession: Vaniglia Piccante from Erbario Toscano, the Tuscan-based producer of beauty products, perfumes and home fragrances.

Erbario Toscano grew out of the dried flower and potpourri business started by Guido Bertozzi in Tuscany in 1967. While Bertozzi was creating fragrances from the dried flowers, his young son, Egisto, took notice. Over time, Bertozzi's reputation for handcrafted products made in Tuscany with traditional Tuscan ingredients (their perfumes are 100% natural) grew and so did their business. Upon his father's death in 2012, Egisto took charge of the family business and launched Erbario Toscano worldwide.

I became familiar with Erbario Toscano fragrances when I discovered Cuore de Pepe Nero on a trip to Tuscany. This men's fragrance has become an Italian cult classic and Vaniglia Piccante stands right beside it.

Vaniglia Piccante opens with a note of deep, rich, creamy caramel. Nutmeg warms the caramel, making it sensuous and inviting, while thyme adds a spicy, green dimension. Cistus extends the herbal aspect of the thyme while eucalyptus echoes the camphorous aspect of it. The opening is sweet, to be sure, but the nutmeg, thymus, cistus and eucalyptus work with the caramel letting the sweetness shine rather than hijacking the fragrance. As it settles on my skin, the fruity, floral smell of peach blossom emerges. It just smells pretty. But the heart is all about wood: sweet, wood-faceted patchouli, camphorous-tinged cedarwood, rich, aromatic sandalwood and wood-faceted cistus work together to create a 'wood' note that isn't bossy or overtaking; instead, it's quietly beautiful. A gentle wafting smokiness from incense adds a bit of seduction to Vaniglia Piccante. The seduction continues through with the base where spicebush keeps the classic pairing of sweet, resinous amber and Bourbon vanilla warm and inviting. The choice of Bourbon vanilla is genius because of its rich, deep, creamy and sweet character, so it loops right back to the top note of caramel, which means the irresistible scent of vanilla never really disappears from any stage of the fragrance. White musk locks it all in.

The drydown is sweet, warm and sophisticated from the powdery aspect of amber. And since vanilla is categorized as a spice, Vaniglia Piccante is really the feminine yin to Cuore de Pepe Nero's masculine black pepper yang.

Vaniglia Piccante translates to 'Spicy Vanilla' in English, so I had high expectations for what this vanilla fragrance would be like, and I was not disappointed. In fact, Vaniglia Piccante has become a Holy Grail vanilla fragrance for me. And to think I used to be wary of vanilla scents! What silliness!

Vaniglia Piccante is listed in our Decant Store.Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.