I'm embarrassed to admit that I know very little about wine. I always enjoy ordering cocktails for myself, and I can navigate a beer menu well enough to end up with something I'll enjoy. Wine, on the other hand? I panic and go blank when confronted with a wine list, unless I'm with a knowledgeable friend, in which case I turn the ordering over to her with a sigh of relief.
Kelly + Jones is a small indie perfume brand "featuring olfactive experiences inspired by the vineyard and beyond." I've already tried their Notes of Wine collection (my favorite: Notes of Merlot) and Mezcal collection and I liked the scents' easygoing personalities and very reasonable price points (roll-ons for $30!). Kelly + Jones' latest offering, the Crush Collection (Vigne, Bouquet and Terroir) is "inspired by the world of natural wine and the purity of a vineyard's terroir."
In my ignorance, I thought that all wines were natural. Right? This is a more specialized term, however, referring to wines made from organic (pesticide-free) grapes without any enhancements or interventions — no preservatives, no additives, no fining (clarifying) or filtering. (If you'd like to read more about natural wines, see here or here.) I tried all three Crush Collection fragrances over the past week and I ended up learning a little more about wine in the process!
Vigne (French for "vine") includes notes of blackcurrant, petit verdot, cardamom, jasmine and cypress and it may be my personal favorite of the trio. It starts off with a leafy-green note and blackcurrant (I always love a good blackcurrant top note!) and then makes a segue into a muted mix of plum and violet (the aroma of the petit verdot grape?) over smooth woods. Vigne has above-average staying power on my skin and feels well-rounded throughout its development, yet it's low-key enough to wear to the office.
Next up, there's Bouquet, named for the smells of a wine — the aroma of the grapes used in that wine, plus the smells that result from the fermentation process and exposure to a wooden cask. Bouquet's notes of bergamot, orange wine, rose, rhubarb and cedar create a tart citrus-floral that reminds me of Hermès Rose Ikebana plus a generous handful of ripe white grapes. Bouquet feels softer and more transparent than Vigne and has slightly less staying power on my skin.
Lastly, we have Terroir, inspired by the climate and soil that uniquely influence each grape's growth and every wine's final character. Terroir's composition includes notes of old vine, clay soil, chamomile, orris root, mushroom and vetiver. It's a touch quirkier than the other two. It really does smell like cool, damp earth (remember Demeter Dirt?) with a few raw mushrooms, and then like a handful of dusty dried orris root. Note: I love the way the Crush Collection's Matisse-like illustrations incorporate notes as visual elements.
I'm adding Kelly + Jones to my mental list of brands (along with MCMC, Gallivant and others) to recommend to people who are ready to move beyond department stores and Sephora but want something more truly independent than, say, Le Labo. The Crush Collection, and Kelly + Jones' other offerings, are contemporary and wearable but not dumbed-down. They have back-stories, but without any Prix Eau Faux-flavored absurdity. And hey, they're even educational for someone like me who knows next to nothing about wine.