The beautiful soft aroma of cedarwood is a speciﬁc example of the more general class of woody odours. Many wine authors betray their age when they refer to wines having aromas like ..pencil-boxes..pencils..pencil shavings and the like as younger people are more familiar with non-odorous ball-point pens and plastic pen boxes - a reminder that the odour cues of one generation may be meaningless to the following generation. The oil from the cedarwood tree, along with the oils from the trees - patchouli, pine, sandalwood and the woody-earthy oil Vetiver (actually from a grass and not a tree) have formed the backbone of perfumery for the last ﬁve thousand years. The enduring aromatic appeal of these tree woody oils is a prominent feature in the psychology of perfumery and recent scientiﬁc work has shown that the delightful scent of clean body odour has special odour molecules with woody aroma notes. So perhaps the charm of this note, the distinctive aroma signature of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, may owe something to unconscious memories of skin contact, maybe encoding in our smell memories the ineffable joys of being cuddled by our mothers?
The most familiar cedarwood trees in our culture come from the Mediterranean region and the glories of the Cedar of Lebanon, now sadly diminished, are praised in many places in the Christian Bible. Cedars are also native to the Western Himalaya region and were familiar in ancient times in India, the home of classical perfumery. All of the trees with aromatic woods have been prized for thousands of years because the scent oils in the wood deter insects and so wooden buildings (which included the fabulous temple of Solomon) in hot countries lasted a long time and were relatively immune to decay. Wooden boxes from cedar wood have traditionally been used for storing clothes because the odour deterred moths.
Of the several natural woody scents mentioned above, cedar is by far the mildest. It is distinctly warm and woody but is not over-powering - especially when you smell it at a low level on the Aroma Strip in the Aroma Academy Wine Aroma Kit. Because all woody-smelling molecules are large, by the standards of aroma molecules, they last for a long time on an Aroma Strip and so it might a while for the odour level to become just detectable - soft and delicate and woody. It is important that you master the cedarwood note since this, along with the aromas of blackcurrant and green peppers, are the key triad of scents in the Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Some wines from the Pinot Noir Grape also have a cedarwood aroma note, but this is relatively muted in comparison with the Cabernet Sauvignon family.
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See our Wine Aroma Kit for more information.