An Air of Temperate Linden – Annette Neuffer Duftmanufaktur, Sonnet 18

I’ve been eyeing the homepage of German jazz trumpeter and perfumer Annette Neuffer’s range of natural perfumes for a while. For the obvious musical link, which is always fun to discover, but also from the onset two perfumes especially caught my interest. One is a coffee themed fragrance and another a carnation[i], but since I’ve already been talking an awful lot about those two subjects, and since now that the days are getting longer and slowly the temperatures become more friendly, my fragrance choice seem to mirror that with longing for flowers in bloom. And so, from Annette’s beautiful range, today is going to be about her rendition of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII, a soft-spoken linden garland.

Sonnet 18 starting with the iambic pentameter ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’, is perhaps one of the most famous sonnets, capturing the reader by letting him feel as well his own mortality as the poets (the poet’s lovers?) immortality through poetry. I can’t help but loving the fact that this poem is the inspiration for a perfume, something which (even if it can last long) would probably not be able to live 400 years, it would not be able to be used and shared again and again like this sonnet. It is in its nature as fleeting as the memory which Shakespeare himself wishes to hold on to, to immortalize.sonnet 006

So what is Sonnet 18 the fragrance; even if linden is normally found in full bloom at midsummer, this perfume is indeed ‘more lovely and more temperate’. It starts out with bergamot and leaves, which makes the green –citric opening zingy before it slowly melts into the linden blossom heart. The linden is supported by an array of other fine blossoms, rose, jasmine, orange blossom and mimosa. There is no doubt that the linden is the leading lady, but likewise this isn’t a soliflore linden, and it isn’t like standing under a huge honeyed linden tree in golden intoxicating bloom.

It’s a sombre and pensive fragrance, like with each added note and layer it looks back over the shoulder into the past, rueing it a little. The heart is elegant and courteous, and at times I feel the sensuality of a few dirty indoles. There is floral sweetness fitting of the linden blossom, but a discreet unsticky one and it stays close to the skin as it blends into the honey and tonka bean of the base notes. As the flowers fade to a whisper, the dry down morphs into a wrap of mysterious warmth.sonnet 003a

‘Sonnet 18’ is a beautiful floral for those who like their florals on the pensive side. I have no issue at all with longevity. As long as my skin stays warm the fragrance can last most of a day, albeit close to the skin. There is however something titillating in sniffing the perfume close-up, like being reminded of a secret or perhaps even with each sniff, taking in a word of the English master’s undying poetry.

And what better way to end?

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.



[i] Even if those two are spectacularly good, if one likes a good warm black coffee and a dense, almost vintage carnation. I am sure I’ll get back to them another time, as they deserve that.

Notes; Top; Red Bitter Orange, Bergamot, Mandarin Leaves. Heart; Linden Blossom co2 extract, Rosa Alba, Sambac Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Genêt, Mimosa. Base; Honey Absolute, Bourbon Vetiver, Indian Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Vanilla Absolute, Styrax, Tonka Bean, Ambrette Musk

Disclaimer; The pictures are mine and I bought the samples from Annette Neuffer


20 thoughts on “An Air of Temperate Linden – Annette Neuffer Duftmanufaktur, Sonnet 18

  1. I also noticed the shift towards floral perfumes in my daily choices.

    I’ve never heard of this brand before (which is not a surprise) but your description makes Sonnet XVII sound interesting (and the coffee one as well 🙂 ). Will I be looking for this brand? Probably not: “all-natural” is already a hard sell for me. And when I read “organic” my impulse is to close the page and forget. But if I come across these perfume I’ll give them a try.

    P.S. Did you actually e-mail them to buy samples?

    • I’ve even worn my ‘real’ spring fragrances a few times (white lilac and rhubarb and Diorissimo). I know that all-naturals are hard ones to jump for, especially when they are not easily available to sniff. I must have been looking at her homepage for at least 6 months before deciding to buy. And to your question; Annette Neuffer is a member of Facebook Fragrance Friends, and it was on a post of hers that I initially wrote and established contact. But I suppose otherwise you would have to e-mail her.
      The coffee one is nice- proper dark not too gourmand coffee but still with a ‘thick’ texture.

  2. I’m really happy to hear the longevity is not an issue and having perfume stay close to the skin is a good thing sometimes (like at work for me).
    It actually sounds like something I might like a lot. 🙂

    • Yes, I still noticed the very faintest musky/ honeyed whiff this morning actually. And I remembered as well, that of course they are extracts, so it makes sense that they are close to the skin 🙂 At the moment I must say I’m really happy with the naturals I smell, maybe they are getting better, or maybe I’m getting better at picking out the ones that are closer to me?

  3. What a fittingly poetic review of a sonnet perfume! I love the idea of florals being “on the pensive side” and of inhaling a word of Shakespeare’s poety with each sniff. Gorgeous.

    • Thank you Tara. I hope you ‘landed’ after all the perfume and travel excitement of the last weeks. Annette describes her perfume as a dark and mysterious linden, I think that fits too. I do like those ‘cross-over’ perfumes that aren’t your typical ‘floral’ but dare to push the boarders a little. I am pretty sure this one wouldn’t be to sweet for you BTW, as the sweetness really is very discreet 🙂

      • You’re spot on. That’s exactly the kind of floral I like.

        Last night I dreamt of a hyacinth perfume like that. Spring-like but with dark and mysterious edges. Very sad I know 🙂

        I’ve just about got my feet on the ground now, thanks!

        • It reminds me of my last time at a wine bar where the sommelier asked what I wanted, and after a word or two, he said ‘I know- dark and complicated’ where to I said ‘Exactly!’ only as I said it realising exactly how silly that was 🙂 And as for perfumes, I think most of us who care to read and write about perfume like at least a little bit of an edge. Your hyacinth perfume sounds nice, I think vintage Chamade extrait could fit the bill. If you’re willing to go for a re-fill and not the uber-collectable flacon these can be found reasonably priced. I should say that I don’t know the new extrait, but I think Chamade probably changes more with maceration than other Guerlains, and in this case gives it a more mysterious edge.

          • Thanks for the tip. The re-fill will do me fine. I will start looking.

  4. I too have been craving florals! I can’t bring myself to wear anything heavy at all either. I love the musical link, too. I can’t say that I know what Linden flowers smell like – but I’d really like to find out one of these days! Thanks for highlighting this perfumer for us. 🙂

    • I think they are also called lime flowers (in your part of the world 😉 ), still, not everywhere has linden trees. Once you’ve walked along a boulevard of linden trees though, you’ll never forget the scent again, it’s really beautiful and slightly intoxicating. You’re welcome 🙂

  5. Dear Asali,

    I’d like to thank you a million times for the lovely review and the thought and time you put into it! It seems like we both perceive the scent the same way, since I really wanted to bring out the melancholy that goes along with the ephemeral joy of summer, beauty, youth, love and so on….So sombre and pensive are definitely the right words, and I’m so happy that you obviously caught the vibe I was trying to create…I guess not everybody would. And again your pictures are breathtakingly beautiful! Very clever how you combined all the flowers ever so so perfectly portrayed with the dark background, I LOVE it! I will get back to you tomorrow night by email more exhaustively and answer your Carnation question! My very best and thanks again, Annette

    • Dear Annette, Thank you for your kind words, and I’m happy that what you created and wanted to bring out also is what I perceive, so it works both ways 🙂 I think it’s an underestimated value in perfumery today; to want to say something. I’m guessing it might be the musical background here, you never ‘just’ perform without first having thought about what you’re saying. But of course one can have an awful lot at heart which all doesn’t matter if the perfume doesn’t work, but a marriage of those two elements makes for a very strong perfume I find. I’m glad you liked the picture too.

  6. I love the sound of “sombre and pensive fragrance”. Sounds perfect for the season around this time of the year; ever changing and still cannot make the mind up. I’m not a big fan of the smell of the fresh linden blossoms but I actually enjoy it a lot in perfumes. The same goes with mimosa. I’m certainly so drawn to Sonnet 18. By the way, your illustration is so fitting to your review! Beautiful and clearand with a touch of edge to it. 🙂

    • True, actually, that it’s a good match to a floral perfume at this time of year when it’s a little moody. Funny you should feel that way about linden and mimosa, I have a similar thing with lily. However, the linden is soft here, a real grown-up linden in a way 🙂 Thanks for the compliment, I’m glad you felt the edge coming out. Even the sonnet is in some ways quite edgy, you know the way we tend to think of it as the greatest love poem perhaps of all, and yet, it’s more about “(so long lives)this”, which is actually himself, his poem… So love for himself and his talents, or his friend?

  7. “It’s a sombre and pensive fragrance, like with each added note and layer it looks back over the shoulder into the past, rueing it a little. ”

    Oh, what a great line, Asali! I know just what you mean by it, and with all your descriptions of this fragrance, I can easily imagine smelling it. And your portrait of Shakespeare has a pensive and melancholic feel to it that is fitting with your review.

    Now having read this, I’m in the mood to watch the film “Venus,” because Peter O’Toole recites this sonnet in a particularly poignant way (made even more so as it was one of his last and greatest films, and a film in which his character faces his mortality).

    • Thank you sweet Suzanne, it always makes me happy to know when things get across the way I intended. And, although I haven’t watched the movie (want to 🙂 ) it’s funny you should mention Peter O’Toole reciting this sonnet, because I was searching for a good recitation of this particular sonnet, when I stumbled upon O’Toole’s version from the film. I heard many, none of them being quite it, and I agree his version is beautiful. I thought it was the best of all I could find, but unfortunately it missed the first line, so I couldn’t add the link.

  8. Shakespeare has never looked better since he was featured in your cracking illustration! This perfume sounds an intriguing mix if its overall tone is sombre and pensive while the notes on the face of it suggest a more cheery spirit. I was interested to read Annette N’s comment above about her rationale for the scent which you have conveyed with such nuanced sensitivity and lyricism. Gotta love a linden perfume! Will be in Berlin soon, though not necessarily Unter them.

    • Thank you dear V., I’m not sure Will would think so, as I did try to emphasis the ‘mysterious’, and obviously not aiming to copy some of the more romantic portraits existing.
      To be ‘unter’ them you would have to wait a bit I fear, and to smell them I think Annette only sells from her homepage, but I find them definitely worth it 🙂

Comments are closed.