This story is pretty amazing. I spotted a reference to it in the comments on Chandrew's blog and followed a couple links to find the whole story.
Robin Goldstein, author of the book The Wine Trials, recently pulled a monumental fast one on Wine Spectator Magazine. Combining his knowledge of wine and food with about three hours' worth of online work, he created a fake Italian restaurant complete with website and working phone number, stacked its reserve wine list with the lowest-scoring selections in Wine Spectator over the past few decades, and then submitted an application for Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence.
His restaurant won the award!
Goldstein created a blog named after his fake restaurant, Osteria L'Intrepido (a play on the name of his own restaurant guide series, Fearless Critic), and you can read all about the experiment there.
A quote from the blog:
"While it’s interesting that the reserve list would receive such seemingly little scrutiny, the central point is that the wine cellar doesn’t actually exist. And while Osteria L’Intrepido may be the first to win an Award of Excellence for an imaginary restaurant, it’s unlikely that it was the first submission that didn’t accurately reflect the contents of a restaurant’s wine cellar.
Restaurants, like all businesses, have strong incentives to embellish their images online. We turn to experts and awards bodies to help navigate the chaotic world of information and misinformation that results. If Google, Chowhound, and a couple of unanswered phone calls suffice to verify not just the existence of a restaurant but also the authenticity of its wine list, then it’s not clear what role the critic is playing."