Balle de Match was introduced by Parfums de Nicolaï in 2002, and has notes of grapefruit, lime, pink pepper, incense, wood and musk.
Balle de Match is the fragrance that I credit (or blame, as the case may be) with starting me on the path to perfume addiction. Looking for a new citrus scent back in the fall of 2003, I wandered innocently into the fragrance forum at MakeupAlley. My first big discovery was that you could order samples online. How convenient! My second big discovery was that getting a handful of new fragrance samples in the mail every so often was really rather fun. After testing several such handfuls, Balle de Match took honors as my first full bottle of niche fragrance.
I should have left well enough alone, but pleased with my new purchase, I thought I might look for one or two more perfumes worth wearing. Fast forward several years, and here I am with a cabinet of bottles that I will not manage to drain during my lifetime. The day you start to wonder what will happen to your perfume collection after your death is the day you have to admit you have a monkey on your back.
But to return to Balle de Match: it is a wonderfully complex citrus fragrance, and one of very few with excellent lasting power. As any lover of citrus fragrances can attest, by and large they are not tenacious, and those few that do last tend to render the citrus notes brash and overbearing. The dry, sparkling grapefruit and lime in Balle de Match don't really last through the entire dry down, but they do last a good long time, and there is nothing at all brash about the composition.
The citrus notes are given a nice kick in the opening by pink pepper and probably other spice and herbal notes (basil?), later, a subtle trail of incense blends beautifully with the spicy grapefruit. The dry down stays very crisp and lively while adding earthy-mossy woods with hints of pine and grass. Very refreshing for summer, with enough substance to stand up to cooler days in spring or fall.
Balle de Match is marketed as a men's fragrance, and while I would classify it as unisex, it is certainly closer to masculine than feminine. It is an Eau de Toilette, and runs $79 for 100 ml. For buying information, see the listing for Parfums de Nicolaï under Perfume Houses.
Tomorrow: Parfums de Nicolaï Vetyver.
Update: in 2014, Balle de Match was renamed L'Eau de Sport.