I – II
In the livingroom of an old villa, in the Tuscan countryside.
It is the close of day.
Act I Scene II
Montecristo is Dumas’s count, but it also is a tiny island in the Tuscan Arcipelago (the smaller sister of the famous Elba) famous for being a natural reserve, and for hosting several ruins including the bewitching Fortress of Montecristo. We were thinking about an old mansion, and the smell of the thick walls – along with the cozy, and unpretentious at once, ambience one may expect from a hideaway living-room – made us think about the name Montecristo.
Montecristo was the second fragrance launched in the Opera collection. It was created by Delphine Thierry, which is also the nose behind the creation of Terralba. It is the only case, in our scented Opera Collection, in which a nose was appointed with the creation of two fragrances. With Delphine we played a game of opposites: the energising and invigorating atmosphere of a Mediterranean seaside sunrise, and the intimate eventide ambience of an old mansion in the Tuscan countryside.
In perfume reviews, Montecristo is praised for many reasons: the expertly rendered textures of the perfume, the conjuring of well-trodden wood and leather, the tawny swirl of rum in crystal glass, the chocolatey patchouli and of course the scent of tobacco. Delphine has used a good dose of ambrette seed, you can really smell it, powdered, earthen and musky in the opening stages, under the haze of sweet dry smoke. Ambrette is a beautiful perfume note. It has clarity and cleanliness, often adding a gentle underscore of nuts and cold wax on white lily buds. Interestingly in Montecristo it brings light and peace.
Delphine loves a raw material called Golden or African Stone (Hyraceum, as it more commonly known) and the opportunity to explore its unique olfactory facets in perfumes. It is Hyraceum that really sets fire to Montecristo’s boozy bonfire of tobacco, woods and balms. It is a rare sustainable source of potent animalic musk that comes from the weird little rock-hopping Rock Hyrax. Blending this feral note with rum, ambrette and styrax is normally asking for trouble but, in the hands of a talented perfumer like Delphine, the result is one of refined sensual assault. For a while, big businessmen style cigar odours set a brash mood in perfumery, but Montecristo could not be more different. Sure, tobacco smoulders and you can almost hear the sound of whisky vapours escaping old bottles; yet the mood is one of smooth privacy, appreciation of flavour, ambience and effect.
Cabreuva (Myocaropus fastgiatus) is another important component of Montecristo, adding to that impressionable cigar sweat and sour opening. Sometimes it can have an anisic wet wood note and balsamic roundness as it warms up and in the right company a haunted floral woodiness. Here, Delphine Thierry has used it to create a kind of wall, a diversion of odour that keeps the senses occupied as the tobacco seeds, golden stone, guaiac, patchouli and woods bind and rise. The styrax is used with discretion and great skill. The addition of celery seeds is an unusual addition, a subtle background note, counterbalancing the rum and Golden Stone.