If you asked me to sum up my thoughts on the Italian niche brand The Merchant of Venice, I’d say that I think their fragrances are very nicely done and beautifully presented but lack a bit of inspiration. They’re not the type of brand one would go to for something new or innovative, instead they offer up familiar styles of perfumery executed very well. The quality of The Merchant of Venice is apparent in everything they do, from their bottles to the fragrances themselves, so it would be fair to say that what the brand offers is a classical take on perfumery where luxurious materials are central to everything they do right from the compositions to the presentation of the bottles.
The Merchant of Venice have a number of collections, with the newest being the Murano Exclusive Collection. Launching exclusively in Harrods, this collection celebrates the ‘East meets West’ aesthetic of the brand with six oriental fragrances, each of which is housed in a heavy flacon shaded in gold and deep venetian blue. Vinegia, the stand out in the collection, is composed by perfumer Valérie Garnuch-Mentzel and promises to express “the splendour, the opulence, and the fascinating alchemy for which the ancient world of spices is justifiably renowned”. Let’s check it out.
Coriander, Apple Blossom, Red Berries, Juniper, Rose, Cyprus, Oud, Cedarwood, Castoreum, Patchouli and Benzoin
How Does it Smell?
Vinegia starts out as a spicy oriental with warm, fruity notes and auburn spices. The clash of dried red fruit and cinnamon instantly evokes the image of golden sands under a hot sun. Juniper adds a much needed drop of moisture whilst the fruit provides sharpness. The first impression of Vinegia is of a well-travelled fragrance, one that has traversed land and sea, brining with it an assortment of ingredients sourced from each continent of the globe.
At it’s heart, Vinegia is an oriental take on rose. The rose itself is auburn and warm, almost as if it is made from the softest velvet in a shade somewhere perfectly in between red and brown. The rose is enveloped by a rich array of spices, woods and resins, creating an effect that is dusty, thick and intoxicating. There’s a leathery, smoky quality in the base that is distinctly oud-like, in the sense that it is evocative of the cypriol-heavy compositions that portray oud in the Western world. Underneath this, at the deepest levels of Vinegia, lies an ever so subtle sourness that is animalic in a palatabley funky way.
Vinegia definitely falls into the brand’s trope of nicely done, but not unusual fragrances. It’s definitely an oud, as it sets out to be, playing to the harsher, smoke and spice facets of the material rather than opting for a striking contrast of rose, but it’s not an innovative one. That however, doesn’t mean that it’s not a beautiful fragrance and I must admit that what I enjoy specifically about Vinegia is its dry, arid quality, which is a facet of oud fragrances that doesn’t tend to tickle my fancy too often. Vinegia feels opulent, exotic and of exceptional quality, so if you’re looking for a beautiful take on oud with a dry edge, then you’d do well to give this a sniff. Also: that bottle!!!
Vinegia is part of the Murano Exclusive Collection and is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £250. In the UK the collection is exclusive to Harrods.
Sample, notes and quotes via The Merchant of Venice. Images are my own.