Secrets and science of scent

Book review: The Secret of Scent, Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell by Luca Turin was published in 2006 by Faber and Faber.

While this book is not newly published, it is a fresh arrival on my shelf from The Book Depository, thanks to a recommendation from Master of Wine Stephen Wong, who suggested it would be a fascinating read. He’s right.

Author Luca Turin lifts the lid on what makes the perfume industry tick and writes with the skill of a novelist rather than a man with a PhD in biophysics from the University of London. As chief technical officer of Flexitral, he used his theory of smell and aroma to design new fragrances, flavour molecules and to develop his own theory about how we smell what we smell, which is exactly what makes this book such a fascinating read.

He does relate aromas to wine, but this book takes a wider view of nature and human intervention. This particularly comes home to roost in his discussion of the fragile nature of natural aroma molecules, such as rose, when compared to the more stable artificially created aroma molecules.

I have yet to arrive at the link between memory and sex, the smell alphabet and how molecules are made, but these subjects, among others, add to the multi layered  intrigue of a book that is already proving to be a spell binding, science based and beautifully crafted read.

I am hooked and am sure that anyone with a genuine interest in aroma will be likewise.

The Secret of Scent is available online from The Book Depository.

Homage tastings diary…

Fantastic summer? Tick. Dry mild autumn? Tick? Great growing conditions for grapes? Tick.

The 2014 vintage was one of the driest and most reliable in the past 20 years for winemakers in Hawke’s Bay, whose reds are only now beginning to trickle out of their wineries. One of the newest of these is the 2014 Trinity Hill Homage – 100% Syrah and the winery’s flagship wine, which officially debuts on shop shelves on 31 October this year.

The 2014 Trinity Hill Homage will cost $130 from Caro’s, Glengarry’s and Fine Wine Delivery Company in Auckland and Glengarry’s and Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington.

Tastings will also be held at these places and times…

Auckland – 31 October at Stafford Road Wine Bar & 3 November at Fine Wine Delivery Company

Wellington – 9 November at Shed 5 with Regional Wines

Christchurch – 15 November with Vino Fino.

More information from:

Homage to a friend (and a wine)

The fundraiser for Raymond Chan’s cancer treatment has now been closed, seven weeks sooner and $20,285  higher than hoped for – the total was $60,285 from 293 donors.

Chan and his partner Sue Davies are overwhelmed by Givealittle, which has exceeded their wildest dreams. As Davies says, “if good wishes, generosity and love could heal, then Raymond would be cured.”

But of course it takes more than that. And while the treatment remains an unknown. Chan says there has been some improvement in his health since starting Keytruda prior to the fund raising, which is possibly attributable to the drug. The funds will now make it possible for him to have further treatment.

In the meantime, life and work go on. As does wine tasting, which is his and my stock in trade.

For the past two years, we have tasted one of this country’s highest priced Syrahs together and last week we got to try the latest again – the 2014 Trinity Hill Homage.

This is the eighth vintage of Homage, which was named in honour of Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle – a Syrah from the northern Rhone Valley in France. La Chapelle is a wine that inspired Trinity Hill’s founding winemaker, John Hancock in 1981. Five years later, in 1986, Hancock worked a vintage for the late Gerard Jaboulet, who sent him Syrah vines, which were quarantined, propagated and planted in 2002 in Hawke’s Bay. The first vintage of Trinity Hill Homage was released in 1993. It is not made every year, only when the weather cooperates to provide outstanding quality grapes, says Hancock. This 2014 Homage is the best yet, in my view.
This is likely to be a controversial viewpoint but I prefer its softer, smoother style compared to the 2013, which may get higher marks from some quarters. Both 2013 and 2014 set a new benchmark for Hawke’s Bay reds and which is best is personal preference – or remains to be seen.

The rest is history.

As is the bottle that Chan, Davies and I tasted and then shared mid last week. Like our long friendship, it’s a wine of intensity and richness, which is very good now but has the structure to last and continue to evolve, if given half a chance.

It’s a reminder that while many wines can age, sometimes the best time to enjoy them is right now.