• Dame Salma Hayek? Sort of: France always rings in the new year by bestowing the Légion d'Honneur, the French equivalent of England's knighthood, on the worthy and accomplished, and in 2012, the 45-year-old Mexican actress joined the ranks of the National Order. Hayek is acclaimed for decades of silver-screen savoir faire; her range spans from Academy Award nominee for the titular role in Frida to romantic lead cat voice in Puss in Boots. Among those Hayek joins in the honor is her own father-in-law, the mogul François Pinault, who was promoted this year to the rank of Grand Officier. Pinault is the founder of the PPR luxury group, which owns brands Yves Saint Lauren and Gucci, as well as a little cottage on the Gironde that may be familiar to wine lovers—Château Latour. (Hayek's husband is François-Henri Pinault, the current CEO of PPR.) The family's other viniferous holdings include Domaine d’Eugenie in Burgundy and the Northern Rhône monopole Château-Grillet. Hayek, who will be laureled alongside politicians, historians, other actors, a judo champion, a rabbi and a jazz master, is not the first non-Frenchman to get the Légion: The Order has counted Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Robert Mondavi and Arnold Schwarzenegger among its distinguished members.
• The charming town of Sonoma had a prominent supporting role in this week’s episode of ABC’s The Bachelor. Sonoma winemaker Ben Flajnik of Envolve Winery is this season's lucky guy, and this week he took the rose-craving women to his hometown. Sharp-eyed wine-loving watchers had a chance to take in beautiful vineyard views and play "I spy" with the local wine country scenery. First, the Bachelor had a date with Kacie B., which began with a stroll through a disturbingly deserted-looking Sonoma town square (Unfiltered assumes that it was closed for filming, since we know it as a lively and fun spot). The pair had a romantic meal at one of our favorite restaurants, The Girl & The Fig (roses are nice, but Unfiltered will take their duck confit any day). Ben and Kacie also took in some home movies at the Sebastiani Theatre, and twirled a baton together (not a euphemism). Later, on a group date, the suitorettes were good-natured about performing a play, written and directed by local children, at a community theater. Ben's second one-on-one date, with Courtney, showcased the area's beloved redwood forests as the setting for a picnic. Through it all, the luxurious Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa provided a wonderful backdrop for multiple make-out sessions and meltdowns. Speaking of meltdowns, there were plenty of tears at the rose ceremony, and blogger Jenna and single mom Shawn were sent home.
If you haven't seen the episode yet, Ben recommends sipping some California favorites while viewing to get in the mood, specifically, the Truett Hurst Burning Man Petite Sirah, Breggo Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir and Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs ("for the rose ceremony"). Ben tells Unfiltered he's also picked out which corks he'll pop while watching next Monday's episode: "Much to the chagrin of my [winery] partners Mike Benziger and Danny Fay, I've been on a crazy Chardonnay kick, so for Monday night I'm lining up a 2008 Chevalier-Montrachet, a 2007 Jean-Marc Brocard Domaine Sainte Claire Chablis, a crazy oaky 2010 Rombauer Chardonnay and our own 2010 Envolve Chardonnay."
• In a small-town British supermarket, a few bottles of wine disappear, a few blocks of cheese go missing. Then a few more slip out, right under the nose of the self-checkout scanner. On his fifth raid, the culprit is caught and unmasked, but no one could have guessed it would be none other than… celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson of Ready Steady Cook, Saturday Kitchen and I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! (And he would've gotten away with it, too, if not for those meddling security cameras.) After his five-course steal, the crook cook received a police caution in lieu of prosecution. The crogue monsieur apologized for pilfering the low-value items, saying, "I am not the first, and I certainly won't be the last, person to do something without rhyme or reason—what went through my head, only time will tell. I am so sorry for all my recent stupid and irresponsible actions." Worrall Thompson also said he'd seek treatment for his role in spreading cheesecrime (a stint in briehab?). Let's hope he breaks the habit and avoids the fate of fellow trespasstronome, American sommelier Mark Lugo, who is being tried in New York for grand larceny following the Case of the Purloined Pétrus and Picasso.
• Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, has moved beyond the pharmacy and into the cellar. While the stores often sell alcohol in states that allow it, the 700-strong wine selection at the newly opened flagship location in Chicago boasts drinks of a different order altogether: Krug Grande Année, Antinori Tignanello, Penfolds Grange, Etude Pinot Noir, Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame and D'Arenberg The Dead Arm, among many others. To help get the wines flowing, Walgreens brought in WineChannelTV's Jess Altieri for a weekly "Wine Wednesday at Walgreens" segment. But to peruse the new store's wine section, shoppers have to find it first—perhaps no easy feat in a two-story, 27,000-square-foot space that also houses a gourmet food emporium, coffee bar, humidor, bakery, made-to-order smoothie stand and sushi restaurant. Your move, RiteAid.
Mara Farrell — New York — January 13, 2012 9:41am ET
Andrew S Bernardo — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada — January 16, 2012 8:57am ET
Matthew Hayes — Dijon — January 16, 2012 4:14pm ET
Mississippi Sales Co — Jackson, MS, USA — January 19, 2012 1:57pm ET
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