I AM NOT ISABELLE ADJANI; no, I am not that svelte, raven-tressed French actress. Glancing at her, I realize that immediately. But as fate would have it, we're on facing chairs, wearing fluffy terry cloth robes, waiting for our next appointments. We are at France's first wine spa, Les Sources de Caudalíe, for treatments they call vinothérapie, which take advantage of the French paradox--red wine is good for your heart. Who wants to argue with that?
During my stay I undergo massages, wraps and baths; most use products made with grape seeds. I eat spa food, which normally frightens me. But Caudalíe promises a corollary to the French paradox: a spa menu with delicious ingredients, like chèvre and walnuts, can still be low in calories and fat. Moreover, I'm encouraged to drink red wine with my meals.
Eating great food and drinking great wine is my idea of the perfect vacation. And Caudalíe's Bordeaux location, in the Graves vineyards of the newly resurgent Smith Haut Lafitte winery, enticed me there. When purchased in 1990 by Daniel and Florence Cathiard, the estimable estate, which can trace its pedigree to the Crusades, was run-down, and its wines, a grand cru red Pessac-Léognan and a white, were in decline. The new owners refocused on quality, not quantity, bringing in pickers to do the harvest by hand and otherwise improving winemaking methods. Today its wines are again in demand. The influential critic Robert M. Parker, Jr., is a fan; he calls Smith Haut Lafitte "one of Bordeaux's shining success stories."