Champagne de Bois and Vintage Rose (Sonoma Scent Studio)

Scentwise, yesterday proved an odd and pensive day. I'd deliberately eschewed fragrance the day before to restore my nose to its original factory settings. When I put on Champagne de Bois (described by many as a Bois des Îles-esque aldehydic sandalwood with impressive sillage and persistence), I expected to be knocked flat on my ass.


When I think of champagne or aldehydes, I envision a whizz! pop! sensory effect, sparkling and buoyant. When I think of sandalwood, I expect the sweet-buttery-sleepy scent of warm skin. Champagne de Bois left me disappointed on both counts. This is one of the most undemonstrative aldehydics I've yet to encounter, not to mention one of the chilliest sandalwoods. After an initial burst of chemical coldness and something that smelled like lemony frankincense, it was as if I'd never put on perfume at all-- at least to my own nose. My husband and my pal JC seemed able to smell Champagne de Bois, if only fleetingly in the close quarters of a hug. Most tellingly, Champagne de Bois did not even seem to trigger my husband's superhuman hypersensitivity to aldehydes. I mean, he can detect that stuff from ten miles away-- but his meter's needle barely twitched. What gives?

Growing ever more puzzled about its disappearing act, I reapplied Champagne de Bois twice during the day, with similar results. I started feeling lost and bereft, as when I go scentless by accident, with no backup fragrance in my purse to remedy the oversight. As soon as I got home from work, I pulled out Vintage Rose (the next sample in my Sonoma Scent lineup) and went to town. Wrists, inner elbows, throat, nape, cleavage... the works. You could smell me from space.

Now it's the morning after, and Vintage Rose's plummy, assertive damascenones are still going hella-strong. I'm enjoying them, but not really more or differently than I enjoyed Rose Musc after the cacosmia wore off. It's funny-- I can connect this rose's tomato-herb quality to that of Guerlain's Nahéma, but it is evident that the latter perfume benefited from a superior sandalwood and thus was saved from its own acid tang. Whether Laurie Erickson's sandalwood isn't powerful or plentiful enough, one thing is certain: it doesn't compete.

Still, her perfumes are essentially friendly ones-- and a nice, accessible scent is better than no scent at all. Champagne de Bois may have left me cold, but Vintage Rose brought me back from hypothermia. After a delightful hot shower, I'll be trying out Wood Violet-- and owing to violet's notoriously reticent nature, I'll wager that this final Sonoma Scent experiment may seem like even less perfume than Champagne de Bois.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, jasmine, clove, sandalwood, labdanum absolute, vetiver, amber (Champagne de Bois); rose, plum, amber, labdanum absolute, sandalwood, cedar, vetiver, tonka (Vintage Rose)