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Bergamot

Bergamot


In mid-day heat we take the precipitous road
to GŽmenos. Over a succulent valley
we pause in scents of pine and bergamot,
and all day the car brims with musk and honey
Below, the sound of water, a quick stream,
cedars of Lebanon, a Judas tree,
and, red-gold under cliffs, like an old moment
of faith in wilderness, a quiet abbey.
On the secret forest path, where water fans
its moonlight over limestone, two girls spread
a scarlet carpet on the rock. They scrub
under falling water, till the stream runs red.
Gillian Clarke-:Magdalene in Provence

... Here, in the bosom of the mountains, sheltered from the north and the east, where the western gales alone seemed to breathe, all the blooms of spring and the riches of autumn were united. Trees of myrtle bordered the road, which wound among groves of orange, lemon, and bergamot, whose delicious fragrance came to the sense mingled with the breath of roses and carnations that blossomed in their shade. The gently swelling hills that rose from the plain were covered with vines, and crowned with cypresses, olives and date trees; beyond, there appeared the sweep of lofty mountains whence the travellers had descended, and whence rose the little river Paglion, swollen by the snows that melt on their summits, and which, after meandering through the plain,washes the walls of Nice, where it falls into the Mediterranean. ..
Ann Ward Radcliffe: The Romance of the Forest

ETYMOLOGY of Bergamot French bergamote, from Italian bergamotta, from Turkish dialectal beg-armudu, bey's pear : beg, bey; see bey + armud, pear + -u, possessive suff.
ETYMOLOGY: Turkish, from Old Turkic beg, ruler, prince. Origin of the Tree- The origin of this tree is obscure both on a geographical and a botanical point of view. Among the various theories, one says that Christopher Colombus brought the plant back from the Antillas or the Canaries to Spain. It then reached Calabria from the town of Berga, near Barcelona, from where it took the name, bergamot. It seems that it was Mr. Valentino who bought the first bergamot tree from a Spanish moor in the XVth century and grafted it on to a lemon plant in Santa Caterina. Another theory by Mr. Chapot is that bergamot tree is an hybride and comes from a cross between bitter orange " bigarade " -C. aurantium LIN.- and the true Lime with small fruits - C. aurantifolia CHRISM. Several anatomical, pathological and historical datas support this opinion.
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/duclostrading/bciorlan/bciorlan.htm

Description of Citrus aurantium
(Bergamot is actually Citrus aurantium var. bergamia but the botanical description of the C. aurantium is very close to that of the variety)
The tree ranges in height from less than 10 ft (3 m) to 30 ft (9 m), is more erect and has a more compact crown than the sweet orange; has smooth, brown bark, green twigs, angular when young, and flexible, not very sharp, thorns from 1 in to 3 1/8 in (2.5-8 cm) long. The evergreen leaves (technically single leaflets of compound leaves), are aromatic, alternate, on broad-winged petioles much longer than those of the sweet orange; usually ovate with a short point at the apex; 2 1/2 to 5 1/2 in (6.5-13.75 cm) long, 1 1/2 to 4 in (3.75-10 cm) wide; minutely toothed; dark-green above, pale beneath, and dotted with tiny oil glands. The highly fragrant flowers, borne singly or in small clusters in the leaf axils, are about 1 1/2 in (3.75 cm) wide, with 5 white, slender, straplike, recurved, widely-separated petals surrounding a tuft of up to 24 yellow stamens. From 5 to 12% of the flowers are male. The fruit is round, oblate or oblong-oval, 2 3/4 to 3 1/8 in (7-8 cm) wide, rough-surfaced, with a fairly thick, aromatic, bitter peel becoming bright reddish-orange on maturity and having minute, sunken oil glands. There are 10 to 12 segments with bitter walls containing strongly acid pulp and from a few to numerous seeds. The center becomes hollow when the fruit is full-grown. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/sour_orange.html
Specific notes on Citrus aurantium var bergamia There are various well-established forms of the sour orange. In the period 1818-1822, 23 varieties were described and illustrated in Europe. A prominent subspecies is the Bergamot orange, C. aurantium, var. bergamia Wight & Arn., grown in the Mediterranean area since the 16th Century but commercially only in Italy. Trees grown in California and Florida under this name are actually the 'Bouquet' variety of sour orange (see below). The flowers of the Bergamot are small, sweetly fragrant; the fruits round or pear-shaped, with strongly aromatic peeland acid pulp. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/sour_orange.html

Images:
http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/library/kohler/1758_009.jpg
beautiful botanical drawing
http://www.bdp.it/%7Ercee0002/Bergamotto.htm
great images of bergamot industry in Calabria, Italy
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/duclostrading/bciorlan/bciorlan.htm
superb images and article concerning Bergamot industry on Ivory Coast. This gives a fine idea of the expression process http://members.tripod.de/Reichel/Citrus/Pictures/bergamia.jpg
great photo of trees bearing fruit

Uses:
Bergamot is mainly used in the preparation of all the best perfumes, fixing the aromatic bouquet, softening and rendering bold the aroma of other essences, adding a top note of freshness to the fragrance. Other than the wide variety of " eau de toilette ", perfumes, deodorants, hair lotions, perfumed soaps, disinfectants, suncare lotions, bath-salts, toothpastes, the bergamot essential oil is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry, being cited in thepharmacopoeias of different countries. The oil is also used in the food and confectionery industry as flavour for liqueurs, aromatic teas, candies and candied fruits.Side products of bergamot are the juice and the skin, used in the agroalimentary industry for the production of soft drinks, jellies and jams. Tradition and History The oil was first sold in a city in Italy called Bergamot in Lombardy and this is where it got it's name. It is bergamot that gives Earl Grey tea its flavour and it is commonly used in cosmetics and toiletries for its fragranceand fixative qualities. http://www.unseenuniversity.demon.co.uk/oils/oils/bergamot.htm

Notes on Olfactory contemplation
The exploration and enjoyment of olfactory sensations is one which will forever enchant ones heart. When one enters this domain, one may wish to do so with the understanding that ones perception of aromatic oils will be forever undergoing a process of transformation. It is not that we smell a precious and delectable oil only once and then we have mastered that essence. Indeed the sense of smell is a cultivated and developed over many years. There are many olfactory perceptors that have become dormant due to lack of use and need to be reawakened again through the disciplined concentration on each individual essence. In due course of time one begins to discover many sublime dimensions of each oil, dimensions that may not have been at all detectable in the early phases of this delightful study.
There are many ways and approaches to studying an oil and so what works for me may not work for others. But for what is worth I would recommend spending a minimum of one hour with each oil and study the changes going on at close intervals, every 15-60 seconds for one hour continously. It is best if one can do this at some part of the day when they will not be disturbed by any outer influence. If one feels comfortable with exploring 2-3 samples of the same oil which have different origins, methods of distillation, etc. then one can come to know how different the very same oil can be. This may be confusing in the beginning but does prove an interesting exercise as one begins to feel comfortable in a world which is essentially non-verbal. One of the simpliest tools for olfactory analysis are clean cue tips which one can label so as not to lost track of what one is sniffing. One may wish to study what others have written about that particular essence and keep those notes before one, carefully noting ones own perceptions from dipping to dry out. Gradually one will find their own words to describe the olfactory landscape through which they are passing. Each person will bring to this endeavor their own vocabulary, perceptions etc. and I would recommend that as one encounters each part of the aromatic personality of the oil they are studying that they allow the words to flow forth freely, naturally describing the fleeting impressions that emerge. There is a storehouse of poetry and prose waiting to be released through olfactory impressions.

Bergamot/Citrus aurantium var.bergamia(Organic) Calabria, Italy
Physical characteristics-light olive green oil
Olfactory characteristics- sweet, fresh, tangy-green citrus topnote. A rich round smooth citrus-herbaceous heartnote with slight sweet floral nuance. The herbaceous note reveals various dimensions of the sage clary-lavender complex. The citrus note is very clean and clear, a real delight to explore in combination with the herbaceous note. The floral note quietly sits beneath imparting a delectable sweetness to the whole composition. This harmonius synergy persists well into the dryout with a soft balsamic note appearing in the final stages of evaporation. Within an hour's time one has explored most of the dramatic changes that occur from the moment of dipping to dryout phase although a faint citrus balsamic sweetness remain on the blotter for over 24 hours.
Perfumery uses: ...the oil is extensively used for its sweet freshness, particulary in citrus perfumes, chypres, fougeres, modern fantasy bases, etc... Unlike most other citrus oils, Bergamot has a certain fixative effect when use din fairly high concentrations. The oil is well balanced from nature through the presence of certain coumarin derivatives, some of which are odorless and non volatile... ...Stephen Arctander

Notes on phytochemicals-
As mentioned before a detailed gc analysis is not only rare to encounter but also very expensive to have done. As one goes beyond a 7-10 peak analysis the price rises accordingly and it is not uncommon to have to pay $100 or more for an analysis that goes into more detail(20-40 peaks) Even this does not by any means exhaust the number of phytochemicals to be found in any one essential oils. An essential oil of even a so-called simple oil may easily contain 100 or more identifiable peaks(provided the equipment is sophisticated enough to do such analysis) And even then the analysis provided it is correctly done(for true analysis is a science, art and craft, in itself requiring many years to master) the results will relate only to the specific oil being evalutated. And one must also realize that an oil is not a stagnant entity. It is also undergoing changes, albeit subtle, everyday of its aromatic life. It is possible that if one were to analyze an essential oil one day and then come back to the same oil 6 months later and do the analysis again, that some changes into the balance of its gc profile might be noted. So it is of great importance to realize when looking at an analysis that one is reading the details of one particular moment in the life of specific essential oil. If one were to take the same aromatic plant from which that oil came and distill it in glass, copper, stainless steel, etc then one might again find some different results. And then if one were to use hydrodistillation, hydrodiffusion, steam distillation, solvent extraction, CO2 extraction processes and again perform the analysis, then one again would find differences in the aromatic profile. Furthermore, if one were to send the above oil to different labs for analysis, they again might get different results. It is just that there are an infinite amount of variables in the world of essential oils and while it is possible to get some idea of the profile of a plant through quality control analysis, it might be a stretch to say that it is an exact science. So when we look at a standard analysis and we see that many phytochemicals are to be found again and again in different oils(albeit in greater and less proportions) we may wish to think of them as basic building blocks of an essential oil. Because they are found in greater proportions than trace and minor constituents does not mean that they are "common". Each aromatic molecule is a miracle of creation be it major, minor or trace. It is quite wonderful that science has been able to give us some insight into a world that is infinitely complex.
GC Analysis of Organic Bergamot Oil/Calabria
alpha pinene 1.35%
Odor Description : Fresh Sweet Pine Earthy Woody
beta pinene 7.25%
Odor Description : Sweet Fresh Pine Woody Hay Green
limonene 45.45%
Odor Description : Lemon Citrus Citral Fresh Sweet
gamma-terpinene 8.05%
Odor Description : Oily Woody Terpy Lemon/lime Tropical Herbal
linalool 6.50%
Odor Description : Fresh Floral Sweet Woody Green Natural
linalyl acetate 23.10%
Odor Description : Citrus Bergamot-lavender Woody
Geraniol
Odor Description : Sweet Rose Wax

Bergamot/Citrus arantium var. bergamia/Calabria Finest Quality
wonderful rich, sweet tangy citrus topnote with beautiful fruity nuance. Beneath this topnote sits a fine balsamic, lavandaceous-citrus heartnote. The smooth lavandaceous note is quite pronounced in this oil although it displays its beauty in the presence of more subdued rich citrus notes which in turn are supported by a sweet floral radiance

Bergamot Petitgrain/Citrus aurantium var bergmaia/Calabria, Italy
potent crisp green leafy topnote. The fresh tangy citrus topnotes found in the oil expressed from the peel are hidden within the leafy complex. As the heartnote characteristics begin to unfold the citrus complex emerges and takes a balanced place beside the green leafy topnote. The two coexist in a harmonius way throughout all the stages of the dryout.

http://sapori.calabriaweb.it/bergamotto.asp?l=2&fl=1
very nice concise information about bergamot of calabria
http://pharma.unime.it/foodchem/pm405.pdf
excellent technical article on gc analysis of citrus oil including bergamot
http://www.panda.org/news/features/archive/06-98/story4.htm
nice article on revival of bergamot industry in Italy

Notes of interest:
It takes about 200 kilos of Bergamot fruits to make one kilo of oil Earl Grey Tea- There are many stories about the tea that carries the name of this Prime Minister. In the most popular tale, the tea and recipe was a gift from a wealthy mandarin to a British envoy, either for concluding a successful diplomatic mission, or for saving the mandarin's life. Earl Grey was delighted and in future always asked his tea merchant, Twinings, for that blend. It became known that the blend was readily available and people would therefore ask for "Earl Grey's tea", hence the name. Although the teas used to blend Earl Grey have changed since that time, Twinings' blenders have tried to ensure that its taste retain and is as true as possible to the original taste of this blend. Today, Earl Grey is the world's most popular blend and is sold in more than 90 countries. It is blended variously from China tea, Indian Darjeeling, Ceylon and sometimes even a hint of Lapsang Souchong. Its unique bouquet is a result of the addition of oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit classed between an orange and a lemon in taste.
http://tea.hypermart.net/countries/englandearlgrey.html

The the ancient center of Bergamot cultivation lies on a very narrow strip at the southern tip of Italy along the coast that is only 100 kilometers long A mature tree(15-40 years old) produces 300 fruits which yield 1 kilo of oil.

Caught unawares the moments that enchant!
"Civet or bergamot, or holy basil?---
But close your eyes!"...And while the nostrils pant,
With the kaleidoscopic sweets a-dazzle,
"Oh stay, you strive; draw in a deeper breath:
You cannot fail: do not too quick reply!"
And the great lids before me, not in death,
But vivid as one feels the sea, being by,
Are stretched unsentried. Lovely Gorgon mask,
Kind betwixt me and doom! White siren coast,
And all the sirens whelmd, in their host
Trembling unseen their perilous harps! Secure,
I leave the chafing senses to their task,
And profit of those brows serene and pure.
Michael Ford, SIRENUSA [from Wild Honey (1908)]