Eau de Cartier Essence de Bois was launched last year as the fifth or sixth flanker of the original Eau de Cartier from 2001. The success of the series obviously prompted Cartier to bring out another Eau, this time with a splash of the ingredient du jour, oud. Let's be clear about what thing: no matter what the pushy SA says, while real oud can be all that (see Realoud by Phoenicia Perfumes), Essence de Bois most likely doesn't have even one drop of actual oud. What it offers, instead, is a very pleasant sheer wood accord that gives some character to what is otherwise a light and airy leafy-citrus cologne.
As the fragrance opens with wafts of pale yellow citrus and pale greenery. It's an easy breezy little thing, with a slight masculine cologne leanings. It's fresh but not really aquatic, so even I have nothing to complain about. In fact, Eau de Cartier Essence de Bois is miles above the average Eau de Whatever; it's the violet/violet leaf, I guess. I'm a sucker for these notes when done right.
Things become woodier pretty quickly. I can smell what stands for an oudish note there, but truly, the Bois here is a pale pale pale cedar. The vibe moves between airy and dry, which is quite nice. The fragrance feels like it was composed with a light yet confident hand. It's not groundbreaking or unique-- I'm sure most of us already have a bottle or three of a friendly citrus/wood perfume, but it's nice, and as far as mainstream goes, I prefer this one to the pretentious Bleu de Chanel.
Notes: yuzu, bergamot, violet leaf, violet flower, lavender, musk, patchouli, ambergris, and oud wood.
Cartier- Eau de Cartier Essence de Bois ($90, 3.4oz) is available from most department stores and Sephora. However, it can be obtained at a significant discount from many of the usual suspects (Google is your friend).
Art: Spontaneous Frost by Ford Smith.