Cinabre by Maria Candida Gentile

Year: 2009

Notes: ginger, Indian black pepper, rose hip, Moroccan rose, Ayrshire Splendens rose, davana, Siamese benzoin, Madagascan vanilla, opopanax

Comment: Cinabre is part of the Classic Collection

Described as a spicy rose, Cinabre is far removed from its lucid and more conventional sibling, Sideris. In fact, it's probably the most challenging creation from her current oeuvre. But, with some persistence, it's possible to be richly rewarded beyond its aggressively sinister introduction.

The peppery opening is stark, gritty and piercing, with the colour association of asphalt. As it settles, a velvety bed of myrrh-infused roses slowly filters through the now dank and musty grey fumes. The level of astringency is maintained by subtle green nuances, underlying the emerging rose accords. And although davana is listed, it doesn't stand out too prominently but its fruity booziness is still very much apparent.

At this point, the basaltic greyness morphs into a more rosy pink tone, as the vibrant roses and verdant chords eventually intertwine to generate a smell almost redolent of Ta'if roses. However, such an olfactory comparison is rather fleeting, as an interesting latex note becomes more noticeable: the opopanax has finally decided to let its presence be known...

As this balsamic accord increases its influence, most of what previously occurred soon falls by the wayside – leaving behind a scant and spicy pot-pourri trail. The sweet, dusty and resinous aspects of the composition set in further, as each base component separately takes turns in the spotlight – beginning with the opopanax, then the buttery vanilla and finally some benzoin.

While Sideris is sweeter, smoother and more fluid in its evolution, Cinabre is pretty much the opposite. Initially, one dismissed it as one of her worst creations to date but, with more time invested, one has made a complete u-turn. Also, its various stages have been compelling and stimulating to observe – with brooding jagged edges, which are at odds with the rest of the Classic Collection, but no less graceful given some patience.

With impressive longevity, the relative simplicity of the drydown is slightly disappointing. But, during the riveting first half of its performance, it certainly lives up to its name in a granular, earthy and sanguine-hued manner. As a result, it has now become a top three personal favourite from this house, and comes highly recommended for lovers of (spicy) rose-based orientals.