Earlier this week, I was invited to meet Mathilde Thomas, the founder of Caudalie, at her luxurious spa at The Plaza in New York.  She has moved here from France with her husband/co-founder and three children to take on the American beauty market. Caudalie's brand that is based on the antiaging properties of grape and the name itself means the length of time taste lingers on the palate.

I’ll raise a glass to Mathilde’s sheer chutzpah and any association with wine (and her parents’ estate in France makes very good ones that we were given a taste of and which give a spa treatment at Caudalie a deliciously hedonistic air) gets my vote. But my toast will be a little cautious as I can’t help but wonder how overwhelmed American consumers in this very competitive market will take to Caudalie.

The problem for Caudalie is that its raison d’etre is now ubiquitous. When Caudalie launched in 1995 the extraordinary antioxidant powers of grape where mostly unknown to the likes of you and me, and even Dr Oz hadn’t yet discovered resveratrol. Fifteen years on and I defy you to find an antiaging potion or lotion that doesn’t boast grape extract.

Take a product such as Caudalie’s best selling Vinoperfect Radiance Serum ($79). You need to be a big believer in grape because for your eighty bucks you don’t get much else, apart from squalane and vitamin E. Granted that in this case it is in the somewhat unusual form of palmitoyl grapevine shoot extract. Caudalie claims that it is an effective treatment for hyperpigmentation. I found an independent study from Germany that confirmed that grapevine shoot extract is “a free radical scavenger and potent antioxidant”.

The thing is that Caudalie works hard to ensure that its grape extracts work hard on you. As Copley mentioned in her review of Vinoperfect, it took three years of research for the Bordeaux University of Pharmacy to isolate and stabilize the molecule in grapevine stalks known for its exceptional lightening action. The resulting patented Viniferine complex stemming from this discovery works by controlling tyrosinase, which is reponsible for melanin production.

An impressive product and a standout in the Caudalie range is the much more expensive Premiere Cru ($150). Last year, Jimmy reviewed Premiere Cru and the lucky chap also got to have the two hour facial of the same name. Here, grape shares the stage with Matrixyl 3000, trehalose (plant sugars that form a gel as cells start to dehydrate, stopping the cells from falling apart so that they perk back into shape as soon as they are rehydrated), plus antioxidant apricot and sesame seed oil.

Mathilde Thomas says that Premiere Cru took seven years to come to fruition. When I asked when the other best-selling products launched, she told me that it was hard to talk of launch dates because the formulations are always evolving and will continue to do so. Well, I’ll certainly drink to that!

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Ingredients in Vinoperfect

Aqua, butylene glycol, glycerin, squalane, tocopheryl acetate*, ceteareth-20*, palmitoyl grapevine shoot extract*, glyceryl stearate SE, fragrance, caprylyl glycol, acrylates C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, sodium phytate*

* Plant origin

Ingredients in Premiere Cru

Aqua (Water), Cetearyl Alcohol*, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride*, Hydrogenated Ethylhexyl Olivate*, Hydrogenated Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kerneil Oil*, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil*, Ethylhexyl Palmitate*, Peg-20 Stearate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Imperata Cylindrica (Root Extract)*, Trehalose, Tocopheryl Acetate*, Palmitoyl Grape Seed Extract*, Dimethicone, Tribehenin*, Carbomer, Palmitoyl Grapevine Shoot Extract*, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Parfum (Fragrance), Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide*, Tocopherol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Ceramide 2, Silica Dimethyl Sylilate, Sodium Carboxymethyl Betaglucan, Sodium Hydroxide, Polysorbate 20, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Acrylate C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide*, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7*, Geraniol, Linalool, Citronellol, Coumarin.

* Plant Origin