Noir Exquis is the latest Bertrand Duchaufour production from L’Artisan Parfumeur. It's another gourmand, and was "inspired by an unexpected rendez-vous in a French patisserie" — it promises all sorts of delicious things, from glazed chestnuts to coffee to maple syrup.
And the start is delicious: a bright citrus top note disappears almost as soon as it arrives, then it's a lovely swirl of sugared chestnuts with hints of vanilla and roasted coffee bean, with mild fruity undertones. It's rich and warming, and perfect for the October chill. If I was trying it on a blotter in a store, I suspect I'd be reaching for my wallet, but be warned, the richness fades quickly too, and then it's a softer, somewhat less gustatory experience, with mild heliotrope and the lightest drizzle of something that could maybe be maple. It's nutty straight into the heart notes, and gets creamier (and more vanillic) as it wears; it's not, despite the notes, a true sweet-bomb. The woody base is dark-ish at most, and mostly clean. By now, perfumistas know better than to expect a big smoldering oriental every time Noir is tacked onto a perfume name, and indeed Noir Exquis is more likely to evoke your favorite fleece bathrobe than your sexiest black leather boots.
Verdict: Quite nice and easy to wear. If you're still looking for your cozy winter comfort scent, this could be a contender. I would certainly wear it if a bottle dropped from the sky, but if I was going to invest in a new gourmand from L'Artisan (and I'm not), I'd much prefer Havana Vanille aka Vanille Absolument (discontinued I think? I can never keep track) or Traversée du Bosphore, both of which I found more interesting than Noir Exquis. (It is also true that the prior two fragrances were, to me, more recognizably the work of Bertrand Duchaufour, but I have probably missed enough of his recent work that I'm not a good judge of what he's doing now.) But I will go on record: if L'Artisan releases all three in a gourmand coffret, 15 ml each, I'll buy it. If they throw in a nice box of chocolates, I might even pay full price.
The very quick poll: name your favorite cozy winter comfort scent.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Noir Exquis is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum. The notes include orange, coffee, maple syrup, glazed chestnuts, heliotrope, tonka bean, sandalwood and amber. For buying information, see the listing for L’Artisan Parfumeur under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image shows the Bûche fumée praliné et noisettes from Philippe Conticini, via Côté Maison.