Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
If citrus is associated for you with sparkling and fleeting (or worse, insipid lemony concoctions), Balle de Match will definitely be a pleasant surprise. Created by Patricia de Nicolaï in 2002, it is a combination of bittersweet citrus underscored with incense. The initial sensation is akin to biting into a grapefruit, that explosion of bitterness and juicy sweetness. The notes reveal themselves in kaleidoscopic patterns, verdant lime peel one moment and juicy white grapefruit pulp next.
The development of the composition resembles the flow of molten glass more than it does the sparkle of icy shards. The clear citrus notes do not vanish but meld into the heart laced with warm pepper and dry balsamic juniper. The citrus leitmotif persists in the base notes where it is joined by an earthy note of vetiver. Incense adds a smoky resinous sweetness that enhances bitter citrus wonderfully and gives it an exotic flair. The resulting impression is more of crushed pine needles than of pure lime peel, which I found very appealing. Balle de Match with its interesting interplay of clarity and darkness demonstrates how multifaceted citrus can be.
Painting: Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau-View with Railroad and Castle. 1909. Oil on cardboard. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany. Abcgallery. The juxtaposition of light and dark in the composition of this work by one of my favourite artists seems to reflect visually the olfactory characteristics of Balle de Match as I experience them.
Update: Balle de Mat