Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mystery of Musk: Graines de Paradis by Sharini review

Graines de Paradis is the alternative name of spice called "maniguette", a close relation to cardamom pods with a more peppery scent (hence the vernacular Pepper of Guinea), coming from a small perennial plant out of Africa. But in Graines de Paradis by Sharini Parfums Naturels, the paradisal spice is all its own and not due to any Amomum melegueta. Not that it would have hurt: The Arabian inclusion of the spice in rich dishes featuring flower petals in the traditional cuisine is not miles off the lush, taste-buds titillating floral musk that Sharini produced.

Sharini Parfums Naturels is a very small company based in Aniane, near Montpellier, headed by Nicolas Jennings, a perfumer who is also contributing to the harvesting and producing of some of the essences used in his all-natural perfume. Not only are they natural (a growing niche which has been knowing a true renaissance) but they're also bio-certified (Eco-cert), according to the website, where little bottles topped with wooden caps with a rough top-side hint at the somewhat rough experience of getting to know organic perfumes (I'm sorely tempted by Iris Véritable and Jasmin Céleste, too, I can tell you). Sharini was part of the German organic exhibition in Vivaness as well, while their workshop is open for the public from the spring equinox (March) till the autumn one (September) at Atelier des Sens, 8, Rue Font de Portal, St Guilhem le Desert 34150. It does look like a mighty fine cave of precious wines...

Sharini's submission for the Mystery of Musk project was amongst the first samples to arrive at my door for evaluation. Kudos for being so professional Nicholas! A lesson for all. And a nice experience it has been wearing the perfume for a few days.
Graines de Paradis (Paradisal seeds) is woven around the musky scents of angelica and ambrette seed, seeping in and out of the composition at regular intervals, while tiaré, neroli, jasmine and the unusual, bracken-like broom lend their own rich aromata. The flower essences yielded their spirit by the -now almost obsolete but utterly charming- method of enfleurage which captures the dying breaths of them as they wither in layers and layers of animal fat (in this case it was vegetal fat, please note), the process repeated for 20 to 25 times by the industrious Nicholas and Crystel (who harvested the broom themselves). The thick precious pomade resulting is then treated with solvents to release the aromatic droplets, gathered one by one; one can almost feel the anticipation, the drops of sweat on the brow dropping with an audible "plong" while waiting for the other, sweet drops to fill the glass vials...
Not only flowers, but other more succulent ingredients enter the formula of Graines de Paradis as well: wild cherries, Rooibos red tea and vanilla enter in the form of tincture. Tincture in perfume speak is an "infusion" of the materials which are seeped in alcohol until a light-smelling but sufficiently aromatized liquid is produced. This is the method that natural perfumers use to "fix" their alcohol via "heavy", animalic ingredients such as ambergris or other good fixatives (like blond tobacco or vanilla if the formulae are thus inclined). A bit like creating an aromatized grappa liquor by adding rind of kumquats! (Do try it!) Nicholas Jennings is using corn grain alcohol. There is a hint of musty bitterness too in the composition, which could be produced by the agarwood inclusion, which tempers the florals and the sweeter notes well.

The overall feeling of Graines de Paradis is rich, sweetly floral (very good quality flower essences) with the gourmand quality of almond paste in the background and intensely lasting on both blotter and skin, thanks to the tenaciousness of the base notes (patchouli, vanilla, ambrette seed).

The best thing of all? Only 25 bottles were produced, making it an almost bespoke scent for the very, very few. There was a draw for a bottle at Grain de Musc.
Please visit the rest of the participating blogs and fora on the Mystery of Musk project following the links provided.


  1. Sorry, the draw is over for Graines de Paradis (I had more than 70 contestants) and the winner is Disteza.
    Of the Mystery of Musk series (which I haven't finished exploring/reviewing), Graines de Paradis is the one I'd consider buying... still having a think about it as it's quite a budget, but I've enjoyed wearing my sample very much.

  2. Oops! Didn't catch it in time, it seems, drats!! Yes, those draws are pretty popular, lotsa of contenstants on the one I was giving away as well and thinking of closing it any minute now (my poor fingers doing all the work...) which is of course so very gratifying for the perfumers, I bet. I'm thrilled we have created such a buzz.

    Anyway, people, the review by Carmen is worth reading even if you're not entering to win a bottle. So not all is lost.:-)

    And yup, it's quality juice, I concur. A much complex "whole" fragrance rather than just a musk.

  3. IIRC, the enfleurage in this case was in a vegetable base, instead of the traditional animal fat.


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