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