Une Rose Chyprée (Tauer)

Normally, my spouse is our household's Christmas champion-- hoarding gift ideas and coordinating a steady influx of mystery boxes from mailbox to deepest, darkest closet. But this year, we both entered the holiday season on considerably less than 100% battery power. He needed ideas... and ideas had I none. What to do?

Answer: check email! That's where I found a surprise bulk message from Andy Tauer one bright autumn morning. (My first thought: Didn't I opt out of his mailing list a YEAR ago? My second thought: Thank god he didn't take me seriously!) In language both cordial and generic, he offered his subscribers a discount on the newly-debuted Tauer Explorer Set: three 15ml. spray vials of our choice packaged up in a signature slide-top tin.

For once, my husband's enthusiasm about fragrance equaled my own. He happily urged me to just go ahead and order the damn thing, and he'd give it to me on Christmas morn. Bingo!

Since I purchased my first Discovery Set three years ago, the Tauer catalog has nearly trebled (if you count those Luckyscent exclusives and Tableau de Parfums, Andy's collaboration with filmmaker/'fume-blogger Brian Pera). At the same time, international shipping costs have skyrocketed, diminishing my dream of ever sampling "one of each". Representing less than half of the total Tauer oeuvre, the Explorer Menu curtails one's choices even further. But it includes my two favorites -- L'Air du Désert Marocain and Lonestar Memories -- which I am duty-bound to buy whenever I see them. (Say I am not faithful to a vow!)  All I'd have to do is select ONE untried Tauer for a brand-new experience tucked among old favorites.

But which?

Vetiver Dance, Incense Rosé, and Incense Extrême were easy to eliminate. I'd already tried them, and while I liked them well enough, I'd never wear them with the same sort of passion that L'Air and Lonestar inspire. For different reasons, neither Orange Star, Une Rose Vermeille, Noontide Petals, nor Carillon Pour Ange provoked more than a "meh" from me. The description for Une Rose de Kandahar (almond! apricot! cinnamon! ambergris! TOBACCO ABSOLUTE!) sounded tempting, yet the mention of "a natural extract of roses produced in Afghanistan's rose region" unfortunately called to mind that nation's four other major industries: war, terrorism, misogyny, and heroin. (Cue me getting all stingy with my Western Imperialist devil dollars!)

So that left Une Rose Chyprée, about which I knew only that it had been the signature scent of a onetime fellow perfumista who routinely prefaced its name with the sobriquet "My beloved..." Sometimes, she'd use only the nickname, and everyone knew what fragrance she meant without needing it spelled out for them. That sort of devotion is worth a hundred wordy reviews-- so I chose Une Rose Chyprée. My rash decision has yet to yield a single solitary regret.

After unwrapping it on Christmas, I decided to spray some on before heading out to our traditional Chinese-buffet dinner. As a fragrant accompaniment to an exotic meal, nothing could have been more apt. Though zingy and bright, the mandarin-zest opening has a strange oily-sugary quality that calls to mind the almond cookie so often paired with a juicy orange segment on a Cantonese après-diner plate. This appetizing-yet-jarring effect does not persist past the first minute or so, after which all focus shifts to a gorgeously rich, spiced-up rose. The labdanum to which it is wedded happens to be one of the most luscious I've ever encountered, striking a perfect halfway mark between animalic and gourmand and proving once more Andy Tauer's unparalleled rapport with resin.

I've been wearing Une Rose Chyprée now for three days straight. Although I shower at intervals just to provide it with a fresh canvas, the spritzes I've applied every morning last all day, all evening, and overnight... and my desire to re-experience it from the top increases with every dawn. Awakening with cheek pillowed on my own perfume-imbued hair, it strikes me that Une Rose Chyprée may have been my ONLY possible choice all along, despite all that hemming and hawing. It certainly sits beside L'Air du Désert Marocain and Lonestar Memories as if to the sang impériale born-- at home and serenely comfortable amid fellow royalty.

I understand now why my pal pledged herself to it for life: there's something about this fragrance which inspires fealty. And if the giver of this gift counts himself as a convert, there may very well be TWO devotees to Une Rose Chyprée cozying up by the tree this Yuletide.

Scent Elements: Bay, cinnamon, bergamot, lemon peel, clementine, Bulgarian rose oil, rose absolute, geranium, labdanum, oakmoss, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla