Andy Tauer, enfant gaté of the niche universe, and deservingly so, excells in three things in his fragrant sonatas: hesperidia, rose and resinous, hazy vapors smelling of earth and dust. Getting two out of three in his upcoming fragrance Zeta isn't half bad. After all, how could a letter named after the Greek alphabet be bad in my world? In fact Zeta hints at the beloved honeyed Tauerade (the base that permeates most of Andy's perfumes) and will therefore appeal even to those who are not on a first-name basis with either hesperidia or roses. But even non-fans should give at least a cursory sniff to Zeta because it's truly very appealing, an ode to summer, an elegy of sensuous pleasures.
Tauer wrote a haiku to preface the fragrance:
"Linden shade in June
Sweet rose petals and the light
Because of this Italian reference and of the Greek letter in the name, I like to evoke Grecani music in my mind: that is songs of the Griko minority (Italians of Greek extraction, going back to the 8th century BC when the island of Sicily and Southern Italy were colonised), a mix of the two Mediterranean languages, κατωϊταλιώτικα, rolling on the tongue with their richness of vowels. So does the perfume, bathed in the warm light reflected on ochre and sienna stucco walls...
Zeta may come as a surprise to those reading that it's built on citrus notes (bergamot, lemon and mandarin), as it is above all s-o-f-t. Not a sharp, pinching, screechy note in sight, no sourness either, a concern sometimes with fragrance including roses. After all, Andy explored the more high-pitched notes in Un Carillon pour in Ange, where he mollified lily of the valley into submission, exhaling its best with a touch of melancholy. Zeta on the contrary is a muted, soft, melding fragrance, tender like cats paws and happy like producing a smile on a newborn's face.
The linden blossom extract is a CO2 product, ensuring a high quality essence. The fragrance is almost flavoured by the linden, reminiscing me of edible linden or rose honey I used to buy when galivanting on the slopes of Zakinthos island in the Ionian Sea, rather than merely the delightful blossoms on the tree. The balance between sweet and citric is beautifully played: Zeta keeps it steady and nice without veering into sugary. It also doesn't produce any pee notes in my skin, as some honeyed fragrances are accused to, sometimes.
The plushness of the rose essence here exhibits both aspects of the natural flower: the citrusy fruitiness nuance of a mandarin compote, but also a greener nuance, closer to neroli or geranium. Rose by its nature comprises hundreds of molecules in its essence, presenting such diverging facets as leomngrass, artichoke or lychee. Flanked by orange blossom absolute, the lushness is self-evident: The honeyed note of the latter invests the former in a bath of light; like opening the French windows on a bright summer afternoon and letting the sunshine come make love to you like a Mediterranean lover.
The fragrance also includes notes of ylang-ylang (subtle, not all-out-tropical) and the all inviting base of orris, sandalwood and vanilla: Almost a blatant come hither! But still, the mood is happy and tender, never poseur. If you have sampled his Une Rose Chyprée or Cologne du Maghreb, you know what I'm talking about. The embrace is billowy-silky, lightly musky, somewhat dusty and sweetly milky, full of expensive raw materials: Zeta not only feels natural, it feels luxurious and it surely must be in formula to compound terms. This is something that cannot always be said for fragrances in current production and for that reason you should definitely sample it while current batches last; next year might bring changes to the raw materials that might slightly shift it.
Colour me impressed.
I have 3 deluxe sample sprayers to send to lucky winners. State in the comments what impresses you about Tauer's perfumes or what does not and what you'd like to see in his next fragrance.
Notes for Tauer Perfumes Zeta: lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, ylang, orange blossom absolute, neroli, linden blossom, rose, orris, sandalwood and vanilla.
Zeta will be available in mid-April 2011. Zeta forms part of the "Collectibles": low volume perfumery, limited by the availability of raw materials that may change from year to year, but not limited edition.
This concept allows Andy to create and present perfumes that he otherwise could not. The Collectibles will be housed in the classic pentagonal 50ml bottle but in green glass with a silver label. More info soon on Tauer Perfumes.
Picture of Sicilian paysage via Ezu/flickr (some rights reserved)
Disclosure: I was sent the sample vials by the manufacturer.