The spark: first email (4th October 2011) posted by Vincent Pousson on Facebook followed by a post on Jacques Berthomeau's blog
(Obtaining and translating these emails would not have been possible without the assistance of Harold Heckle.)
(Due to length we have split this article into two – the actual emails can be seen here)
They show a cash-strapped region trying to find an equitable way of spreading the charge of €30,000 being levied by Campo and the Wine Academy of Spain amongst its members.
They expose as threadbare the defence offered by Campo on 9th December 2011. Far from being just one email, as Campo claims, this is a series of emails exchanged between the regional government in Murcia, the three DOs (Bullas Jumilla and Yecla) and Asevin. It is very clear that the bodegas are being charged both for having their wines rated and assessed by Jay Miller for The Wine Advocate/erobertparker and for the opportunity to have their wines included in the masterclass as well as a possible visit to their bodega.
As this was an official Wine Advocate visit the expenses incurred during the visit to Murcia should have been covered by The Wine Advocate as Campo acknowledges in his December 5th statement:
‘Before TWAS began collaborating with The Wine Advocate, TWAS made clear to its staff that according to Robert Parker’s rules, wineries could not pay for expenses or fees for visiting them nor for Jay Miller tasting their wines on behanlf od (sic) The Wine Advocate. All the expenses were paid at all times by The Wine Advocate.’
The emails, which run from 4th October 2011 to the last week of October, show that the organization and the charging of bodegas for samples sent in for Jay Miller to taste and visits by Miller was discussed at a high level within Spain’s regional government. The email sent by Juan Antonio Ruiz Jiménez on 4th October 2011, which was published on Facebook 26th October), is the beginning of a pattern and not a one-off. Nor was he acting as a maverick as has been suggested. These emails are at variance with the explanation provided by Campo.
These seven emails relate to the organization during October of the visit by Jay Miller and Pancho Campo MW to Murcia (24th-26th November 2011). Some of these have already appeared on Jim’s Loire (29,000 € for a two and a half day visit to Murcia: 24th-26th November 2011: http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/2011/11/29000-for-two-and-half-day-visit-to.html
Brief details of the emails – the full versions are on a separate post.
To: some 40+ bodegas
This is the one posted on Facebook by Vincent Pousson: 26th October 2011 and sets out the now famous tariff.
This directly contradicts Jiménez’s statement sent to me on 1st November 2011 – a statement that bears all the hallmarks of being composed by Campo.
‘the visit to Jumilla was not included in the official programme of The Wine Advocate, which will take place at the end of November. Therefore, ASEVIN asked TWA to make it possible for Jay Miller to visit Jumilla (Murcia) to offer his opinion on this region’s wines.’
Jiménez’s statement is here (http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/2011/11/jay-miller-pancho-campo-wine-academy.html)
Jiménez does stress that Jay Miller SOLO cobra por la Cata Magistral that is to say Jay Miller only charges for the two and a half hour conference and masterclass
General Directorate of Agricultural Training and Agribusiness
Ministry of Agriculture and Water) announcing a meeting on Friday 14th October 2011 starting at 13.00 to discuss the proposed visit by Jay Miller to Murcia.
Email Four: Monday 10 October 2011 14.32
a. One of the wineries that provided one of the wines for the master class and tasting at FENAVIN also owns a property in Murcia.
b. In view of the success of the event managed by TWAS the winery in question requested from TWAS to organize something similar in Jumilla.
c. Again, our commercial department submitted a proposal, which was accepted by ASEVIN. ASEVIN is a non-profit association that gathers the wines professionals of Murcia.
d. In the contract* signed by ASEVIN it is clearly stated that they could not ask wineries to pay for the event, for wines to be tasted at the master class or for possible visits if Jay Miller decided to include a few winery visits during his trip.
e. Before Jay Miller had agreed to the proposed event and contracts were signed, ASEVIN sent out an email trying to raise the money from the wineries, contrary to the stipulations clearly detailed in the proposed agreement. At that point TWAS put the event on hold until the wineries were informed that they could not be asked for any kind of payment for possible visits and for submitting samples.’
* ‘Contract’ was signed on 11th November 2011 long after this series of emails and well after the scandal broke. Signed by only one party – Asevin – with no indication where it was signed.
Miller was to spend part of the mornings of the 25th and 26th tasting samples for The Wine Advocate that had been submitted under the Wine Advocate criteria cited by Maria Teresa Torres in her email of 10th October. It is surely evident that bodegas were prepared to pay to send in samples and for visits on the understanding that Miller’s visit was official and that their wines would be assessed and rated for The Wine Advocate. One cannot imagine that they were prepared to pay €30,000 just for a two and half hour conference/masterclass.
It is also difficult to imagine the producers wanting to pay €30,000 for Campo’s informed views on the Chinese market in the light of having CavesMaître, who have grabbed Castel’s trademark in China, as a major sponsor of WineFuture Hong Kong.
We note that Campo does not indicate in his December 9th statement whether the visit to Murcia by Miller was ‘official’ or ‘free-lance’.
The crucial question is would this proposed visit by Jay Miller and Pancho Campo MW have gone ahead if Murcia had declined the offer of a conference and masterclass? A question of No pay No Jay.
Or would Campo have said “I quite understand that in these economic circumstances you can’t afford our fees, so no conference/masterclass. However, Jay Miller will be there tasting wines for The Wine Advocate and will also visit some wineries”?