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Lewis Black and Loring Go Noir; Fake Prince Cons Winery

A comedian, a conman, an urgent call for wine heard 3 millennia later, and a Homicide Hunter gets his wine, all in this week's Unfiltered
Photo by: Clay McBride
This guy's mad about Pinot Noir.

Posted: June 22, 2017

It must get stressful to be perpetually pissed off, but Grammy-winning comedian and rage maestro Lewis Black, a Daily Show contributor and onetime Root of All Evil host, knows how to unwind with a glass of wine, as he's told us before. He's also more charitable offstage, literally: A longtime supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Black hosts the organization's annual Ultimate Golf Experience. At the event's charity auction, Black and some friends bid on and won a particularly tasty lot: a "blend your own wine" session donated by California Pinot star Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company. Fresh off his trip to the Loring cellar, Black talked blending with Unfiltered.

The comedian and pals have made a tradition of bidding up the Loring lot since 2012, so they've nurtured a bit of a purple thumb over the past few years of tasting barrel samples and blending at the Santa Barbara winery. "What I think is most interesting is that each year—I mean, I don't think we're delusional—we've come up with a better blend," Black told Unfiltered. "We've gotten better at it." According to Black, the group tastes through about 18 to 25 different samples over the course of two or three hours before settling on a blend to bottle, name and stick a custom label on. "I'm not really good at that kind of spit cup thing; I just don't get it," Black admitted, though he claimed that at last month's go-round, he had improved and didn't exit the cellar "totally in the bag."

"It's a real treat to get to spend time with them blending the wines, especially knowing that we're doing it for such a worthwhile cause. My sister Kimberly and I feel honored and humbled to be involved in the search for a cure," Loring told Unfiltered via email.

"He's really remarkably generous," Black remarked about Loring, though Black knows how to dish it out, too: He'll gift bottles to friends, who then auction them off to raise even more for charity.

Fake Man Commissions Real Wine in Reverse Wine Fraud

His title was “His Imperial and Royal Highness Stephan Tchernetich, Hereditary Prince of Montenegro and Macedonia, Serbia and Albania,” and like a proper royal, he had a wine tailor-made just for him and his court. He palled around with Novak Djokovic and even “knighted” Pamela Anderson as a “contessa.” But unfortunately the prince's reign has come to an end, as a police investigation concluded that "Stefan Cernetic" is not European royalty at all, but just a guy who liked wearing fake medals and insignia, rubbing shoulders with C-listers and freeloading at fancy hotels and restaurants using a sham identity, which apparently is some kind of crime now.

Stefan Cernetic/Facebook
We'll never be royals.

According to the Telegraph, Cernetic and an accomplice who operated as his “ambassador” could be on the hook for fraud if authorities pursue the case, specifically fabricating identity documents, lying to public officials and claiming a false identity. The investigation began nearly a year ago after Cernetic allegedly stiffed one hotel too many.

One of the perks of (real) royalty is having "official" suppliers for wine, coffee, beer and other goodies—a number of Champagne houses like Bollinger and Mumm have royal warrants from the House of Windsor, for example—and at least one unlucky winemaker was tricked into bottling a cuvée "Selezione Reale Principe Stefan."

At Montalbera Winery in Piedmont, they remember well the day His Highness, former caterer and party planner from Turin, graced the vineyards with an unannounced visit five years ago.

“He boasted of being hereditary descendant of Royal House of Montenegro and Macedonia with us too," owner Franco Morando told Unfiltered via email. "He presented himself very well and he had a great communication ability, [which is the] reason why he convinced us to produce wine with his name."

“We labeled about 1,200 wine bottles with the royal coat of arms. Then we hadn’t any more comments or business contacts with him.” Morando is reporting the scam to his lawyers and requesting the Montalbera logo be removed immediately from the "Royal Suppliers" page on www.princeofmontenegroandmacedonia.eu.

Secret Ancient Message Deciphered: Send More Wine!

In 600 B.C., a Judahite soldier named Hananyahu was feeling thirsty, so he did what any of us would do if liquor stores hadn't been invented yet: He wrote to his pal to ask for some wine. (We feel you, Hananyahu!) Now, a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University have discovered his plea, previously invisible on the back of a pottery shard that archaeologists found in 1965. "Being the first to see this inscription after approximately 2,600 years, we're still in slight shock," Arie Shaus, one of the researchers, told Unfiltered via email.

“If there is any wine, send [some],” the inscription begins, followed by a guarantee for assistance if the addressee has any requests of his own (“If there is anything [else] you need, [write to me about it]”). The message concludes with another reference to wine. The recipient of the letter was one Elyashiv, a fellow soldier stationed about a day's walk away, according to Shaus. But did he come through for our man Hananyahu?

"The addressee … seems to be on friendly terms with Hananyahu, so we don't have any reasons to doubt it," Shaus explained, going on to give Unfiltered even more ancient, ahem, dirt on the topic: The researchers think that the second reference to wine may mean Hananyahu wasn't just mooching off his buddy: "It looks like a mutual alcohol exchange is taking place!" according to Shaus. "Hananyahu is sending to Elyashiv a messenger named Gealyahu, with 22 or 44 liters of what we interpret as 'sparkling' or 'bubbling' wine." Sharing bubbles with your buds? The ancient kingdom of Judah wasn't so different from Unfiltered HQ after all.

Homicide Hunter Gets His Wine

Ah, the bliss of uncorking a bottle of wine after a long day, putting your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and splaying out on the couch to relax to … a murder mystery? Sure: Fans of the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel know there are few greater simple pleasures than digging into some primetime crime with a bottle of wine. (Prince Stefan Cernetic gets it.) Now, devotees of both drinks and delinquency can pair their favorite ID shows with a bottle of wholesome goodness, with the launch of the Discovery ID Wine Club. Sleuth out ID-themed bottles like “A Wine to Remember” (a nod to A Crime to Remember, which is about famous crimes of older vintages), “My My My Merlot” (on Homicide Hunter, grizzled ex-cop Joe Kenda says things like, "Well, my, my, my," when he discovers a clue in the course of his reenacted, possibly factual adventures) and “The Perfect Accomplice” (wine is the perfect accomplice). Lock some down.

At Brooklyn Wine Benefit, Get Lit for a Firehouse Cause

On June 26, the Williamsburg Wine Bash will take over Brooklyn Bowl for an evening of more than 60 wines to taste, dishes from New York chefs like Andrew Carmellini, opening remarks from beloved former borough president Marty Markowitz and a festive auction, all to raise funds for the Firehouse North Brooklyn Community Center project. The shuttered firehouse is being given new life as “the first cultural or community center of its kind in North Brooklyn. As the neighborhood continues to change and grow, we are building a place that brings diverse populations together while retaining its artistic soul and community spirit,” development director Diana Zelvin told Unfiltered via email. “It will also be a permanent home for People’s Firehouse Inc. and NAG, two significant neighborhood social justice organizations that offer residents advocacy and services.”

Wines on deck include selections from Acacia Vineyard, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Beringer Vineyards. The auction, led by wine educator Kevin Zraly, will feature lots like a trip to Napa, an evening at the Brooklyn Brewery, and a natural wine tasting at the Four Horsemen bar in Brooklyn. Tickets start at $200.

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