A Day in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Atelier Cologne / by Didier Young

Back when I was a child, I recall being told that the best wines in the world came from France and Italy. As an adult I realized that, much like Santa Claus, some of the things that I was lead to believe turned out to be erroneous. I discovered Australian wines and the delectable ones from Chile but it is not until I moved to Canada that I’ve had the chance to give the local wines a try. The Niagara-on-the-lake region in Ontario is one of the major locations for wineries in the country and they have stepped up their game and produced some award winning wines throughout the years. Last week, we had the chance to take a small detour to Canada’s wine county courtesy of Atelier Cologne.

How does the fragrance company tie in with the wineries, you may ask? The Niagara region has a very distinctive feeling that is highly reminiscent of the south of France where Atelier Cologne was born. Creators Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter met in New York in 2006 where they discovered their shared passion of Eau de Cologne. They dreamed of creating a version of the scent that was strong enough to be worn as a pure perfume. After years of research, trials and errors, Christophe and Sylvie birthed the first members of their new family: the cologne absolues. While “cologne” had been banalized throughout the years to simply refer to male fragrances, the term used to refer to a specific perfume created by Johann Maria Farina in 1709 in the region of Cologne in Germany. The formulation called for a lower concentration of essential oils (2-5%) where citrus oils played a focal role in the concoction of those delightful sensory elixirs. For the cologne absolues, Christophe and Sylvie created scents with 15% citrus essentials oils which makes their scents unparalleled to any others on the market.

The focus of our winery trip was the Joie De Vivre collection which consists of the brand’s five most citrus-focused colognes. With its bright citrusy top notes (California Clementine, Italian mandarin, Macedonian juniper), a spicy heart (Chinese Star anise & Sichuan pepper, Egyptian  basil) and green-woody base (Haitian Vetiver, New Caledonian Sandalwood, French Cypress), the refreshing Clementine California has been my go-to fragrance this summer since I discovered it a few months ago at the Atelier Cologne store opening in Toronto.The beauty of this fragrance is its gentle and unassuming nature: it does not offend, it has character but without being too overbearing. It is a scent that knows how to camouflage itself into everyday life and that’s what makes it such a beautiful versatile eau de cologne. The other members of the Joie De Vivre collection all have their own temperaments: the juicy Orange Sanguine, the sunny Bergamotte Soleil, the heavenly Pomelo Paradis and the crisp Cédrat Enivrant. Much like every family, this collection is made up of members who are their own individuals but when brought together, they form a beautiful family portrait.

After lunch, we had a consultation with the amazing people who work for the brand where we each had the opportunity to pick a brand new scent from the collection. Since I already owed a bottle of the Clementine California (Actually make that three: I keep a 200ml bottle at home to spray on in the morning and a couple of the 30ml travellers in my gym/ everyday bags), I decided to pick a bottle of the Cédrat Enivrant. With its notes of Moroccan cedar, lime, mint and vetiver, I believe that it will be the perfect scent to mark the arrival of fall in a few weeks. 

We left that day with our bellies full, bags packed to the brim with citrus fruits and our brains imbued with memories that we will never forget. After all, that is the true mark of a great scent; it has the ability to transport you to memories past and far off locations with the power of a single whiff.