I was tipped off to this awesome story by food dude at Portland Food and Drink. What we all suspected about the Wine Spectator is apparently true. At least when it comes to doling out their Award of Excellence to various restaurants for their supposedly "superior" wine lists. Turns out if you want to win one of the coveted prizes to impress your friends, it doesn't cost near what you thought. In fact, YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO OPEN A RESTAURANT!! With their rubber stamp firmly in hand, the arbiters of wine taste at the Speculator gave one of these awards to a bogus restaurant that writer Robin Goldstein invented in his head, complete with fake website, menu, and wine lists. The upshot is that his regular wine list was a normal selection of quality offerings, while his "Reserve" list was a listing of wines the Spectator themselves had panned in previous reviews, including (and borrowing this from PFandD):
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO “LA CASA” 1982 (Toscana) Tenuta Caparzo 200,00 €
Wine Spectator rating: 67 points. “…Smells barnyardy and tastes decayed. Not what you’d hope for…”
CABERNET SAUVIGNON “I FOSSARETTI” 1995 (Piemonte) Poderi Bertelli 120,00 €
Wine Spectator rating: 58 points. “Something wrong here. Of four samples provided, two were dark in color, but tasted metallic and odd…”
SASSICAIA 1976 (Toscana) Tenuta San Guido 250,00 €
Wine Spectator rating: 65 points. “…Even Sassicaia could not apparently escape the wet weather of this memorably bad vintage in Tuscany. It lacks harmony, having oxidized…”
Read the whole unbelievable...or really believable story here. Well done Robin!
Postscript: you can read Wine Spectator editor Thomas Matthews rather lame mea culpa here. Matthews passing off the whole episode as an "act of malicious duplicity" is the worst kind of victim mentality.