Living Entertaining:

The Beauty of Wine… Caudalie!

Poppy's Catering

If there’s one thing that universally connects us all it’s the simple act of gathering for a meal. There’s something about sharing a meal with someone—a family member, a friend, a potential client or a stranger—that encourages conversation and connection. It’s such an unexpectedly intimate situation. I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself exclaiming over similarities or exchanging ideas with the person sitting next to me over a dinner. In these moments the differences that exist outside that table, that kitchen island, that restaurant, are erased.

Two weeks ago I stepped inside The Nomad for lunch with Mathlide Thomas, the brilliant visionary and co-founder of Caudalie, a luxe French skin care brand whose products are based on the healing properties found in grapes.

Mathlide’s story is hugely inspirational. Her family owns Château Smith Haut Lafitte, a 600-year-old winery in Bordeaux that, thanks to a chance encounter with Professor Joseph Vercauteren (one of the world’s leading specialists in polyphenols) is now home to Les Sources de Caudalie hotel & spa. When Mathlide and her now husband and business partner Bertrand were in their early 20’s, Vercauteren happened to be visiting the chateau during their harvest and asked Mathlide if she knew she was “throwing away treasures?” Unbeknownst to Mathlide, the seeds of the grapes were packed with powerful antioxidants with anti-aging properties – they secured their first patent in 1995 for extracting and stabilizing grape-seed polyphenols and Caudalie was born.

As a strong proponent of natural and organic ingredients, I’ve admired the brand from afar and appreciated the small bits I knew about their philosophy. Although I had never met Mathlide we wasted no time and dove right into the details of our lives (after diving into the menu, of course). We swooned over our mutual love of food, cooking, and wine. We talked about the adventures we’ve both had traveling with our families, about each of our careers, and we discovered a shared décor aesthetic, swooning as we shared images of our homes.

It’s these connections with like-minded individuals that help make you feel a little less alone on your own personal journey and provide you with inspiration that pushes you to keep going. Since I started Eyeswoon I’ve been lucky enough to share these moments with so many different people, Mathlide included.

I left my lunch with Mathlide thoroughly inspired. It’s rare that a beauty brand’s beliefs would be directly aligned with the core beliefs of a foodie swooner like myself. When I learned that grape seeds, grapeseed oil, coriander, prickly pear, and rose were the ingredients found in Caudalie’s new Premier Cru Elixir I instantly knew I wanted to collaborate on their wine tasting launch event by building a menu inspired by those very same ingredients.

I pulled together my version of the dream team to execute my vision. I called upon friend Jamie Schmones Erickson of Poppy’s Catering and together we developed a swoony menu of nibbles all inspired by wine and the healing properties in the grape: a coriander white bean dip, roasted grapes spooned over farm fresh ricotta, a French-inspired cheese board overflowing with grapes and concord grape jam, prosciutto crostini highlighted with prickly pear, buckwheat and grape focaccia, and tartlets filled with pastry crème and sprinkled with candied rose petals. The finishing touch? An elixir-inspired grape and Meyer lemon jam for each of our guests to take home. For flowers the Putnam & Putnam floral team and I pulled our inspiration from the vineyard itself. We wanted to evoke a palette that reflected the shades of a beautiful blush wine with grapes and cactus pear spilling out onto the tables. The floral arrangements felt romantic and heady, thanks to the wild wandering tendrils of grape vines.

Mathlide’s story struck a cord deep within me. I was so moved by her passion and dedication to maintaining the integrity of her product—from the quality of the ingredients she uses to the hours spend in the lab developing new groundbreaking elixirs to the aesthetic choices she makes in the packaging and representation of her brand—she is a true swooner at heart.

Photography by Winnie Au




Can you speak to the process of developing the elixir and the specific benefits it offers?

I created Premier Cru The Elixir to offer women a new beauty ritual. It’s a youth booster that’s part oil and part serum, both precious and of sustainable origin to transform and enhance the skin. It’s composed of 99.5% natural ingredients and works together with Premier Cru The Cream to transform and restructure the skin. After application the skin is visibly younger and firmer.

For me everything begins with a visual – How involved are you with the visual scope of Caudalie?

I am lucky to be surrounded by beautiful things. From the château Smith haut Lafitte vineyard in Bordeaux, Les sources de Caudalie hotel & spa in the middle of the vines, the luxurious Caudalie Spa at the Plaza hotel.

I am very much involved with the visual aspects of Caudalie. From the boutique store design to the product packaging, I see and approve all elements. It’s important our visual expression stays consistent amongst every channel.

Did you immediately know you were onto something when creating a beauty line using properties found in grapes?

Dr. Joseph Vercauteren is the man I attribute to leading me on my career path. He was an expert in grape and grapevine polyphenols, and was the one to explain to me we were throwing away treasures during the wine process. It was then I realized that I had an incredible opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Throughout the process I always believed it was possible to create highly indulgent beauty products that were not only effective, but also natural and luxurious.

In my world there are many swoon worthy elements that overlap in the food, design and entertaining space – How is food and wine intertwined with beauty in the Caudalie world?

Caudalie was born in my family’s vineyard, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, where we source our ingredients from, so wine is a key element to our brand. It’s part of our DNA. The high content of the polyphenol called resveratrol, which is a main ingredient used in many Caudalie products, is found l in red wine and is what provides so many health benefits. Resveratrol is what makes a moderate amount of wine so good for you, as well as delicious!

Les Sources de Caudalie, our hotel & Spa in Bordeaux France is a very unique place in the middle of the vineyard. You can eat local 2 Michelin star food, sleep in a beautiful place where the décor mixes antiques and French flair furnitures, indulge Caudalie treatments, visit chateaux.

Food & Wine

Favorite restaurants here in NYC?

Two of my favorites restaurants in Manhattan are Buvette and Daniel. Their both dear friends of mine, and their French cuisines are delicious.

Classic meal you create often – guaranteed to impress your guests?

We love seafood for dinner. One of my favorite dishes to cook is fresh broiled scallops and quinoa or a salad of burrata, tomato, and fresh basil. I finish both dishes with French sea salt and cold-press extra-virgin Italian olive oil. Lemon chicken tajine with almonds and coriander is an easy dish that I like to prepare when I invite friends over.Voila!

5 ingredients you couldn’t live without?

Organic Grapes of course, Smith Haut Lafitte wine, comte cheese , 90% dark chocolate, kayser bread.

Guilty pleasure food?

Red wine and cheese

Wine of choice?

Red Smith Haut Lafitte 2009

Are there any family food or wine traditions that you share with your family? 

At recent family gatherings, my parents have been hosting blind wine tastings. It’s impossible! You have to decipher, what region, what bank and what wine it is. My sister is much better than I am at it.

How would you represent your food philosophy?

I love to eat. The essence of eating like the French is to eat very well, but in moderation. Don’t deprive yourself and enjoy a glass of red wine every night with dinner.

On Beauty & Lifestyle

This partnership was so aligned and exciting in so many ways – where do you see similarities in eyeswoon and Caudalie?

EyeSwoon marries your passion for food and cooking with the love to create these visually beautiful spaces. You bring the lifestyle element to the food, which is what Caudalie is about as well. It’s far behind effective products; there is a story and an element of indulgence that we all enjoy. Together we make for a beautiful fit!

We spoke in great detail about your love of NYC – How do you see the differences between the American woman’s beauty regimes as compared to French woman?

American’s have this mentality, “no pain, no gain!” This I never understood. Great beauty does not always demand great suffering. Life is just too short. Americans are much more willing to undergo treatments that are too harsh or painful for their skin in order to make them look better.

American trait  or activity you have whole-heartedly embraced? 

I bike to work every day. Rain or shine! It’s the moment before I get into the office that I can clear my mind and embrace the outside. Bertrand and I bike through central park in the morning, and it’s such a pleasurable experience.

Best beauty advice you ever received?

When I was a teenager, I remember my mother giving me two specific pieces of advice that have remained with me through the years. First, there is nothing better than eight hours of sleep for both your beauty and your health.  It’s amazing how much better you look when you are well rested.

3 words that express Caudalie?

Effective. Natural. Luxurious

Coriander White Bean Dip

Poppy's Catering


½ lb. dried white beans
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ cup tahini paste
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup (or more) cooking liquid from beans
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


Soak beans overnight in plenty of water. Drain, put them in a pot, and cover them with fresh water by 1-inch. Bring them to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until they are very soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Put the beans into the bowl of a food processor.  Add the lemon juice, coriander, garlic, tahini paste, and salt and pepper, to taste. Turn the processor on and slowly pour in the cooking liquid. Process until smooth and thick. If hummus is too thick, add reserved cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Using a rubber spatula, fold in chopped cilantro.

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