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August 2007


WINE & SPIRITS

To Your Health
By Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave

THE TRUE OENOPHILE CAN'T BE SATISFIED SIMPLY BY DRINKING WINE

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The world of hedonists divides into two camps—spa people and food (and wine) people. For some, there's no greater pleasure in life than sprawling out on a table and passively receiving an intense, oiled-up kneading. Personally, I'd rather be washing down a gourmet spread with a rich glass of red. However, during a recent food and wine blitz through Bordeaux, I decided to give the world of spas another shot. It didn't hurt that the facility I visited—the original Caudalie Spa—smelled suspiciously of fermented red grapes.

As it turns out, Les Sources de Caudalie, on the vineyard property of Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Graves, is a spa that's all about wine (and part of a burgeoning international chain). Clients are scrubbed in Cabernet Sauvignon and soaked in grape extract barrels.

I've had my share of intense spa experiences. Years ago in Romania, I was covered in Black Sea mud, which dried like cement, encasing my body in a boa-constrictor grip. In Fiji, a witch doctor masseur once prepared an odious potion of exotic herbs and tree bark chips that he administered so vigorously I felt as if I were being skinned alive. As spa treatments go, vinothérapie seemed much more my speed.

As it turns out, it is in fact truly enchanting to be rubbed down with a floral anti-aging paste made from sea salt, honey, grape seed, lavender, rose and chamomile oils, all the while overlooking Bordeaux vineyards. Five hundred years after Ponce de Leon had I finally found my fountain of youth?

Mathilde Cathiard-Thomas, whose parents own Château Smith Haut Lafitte, first developed the field of vinotherapy barely a decade ago.

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