Awards and citations:


1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for investdrinks.org

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award




Thursday, 1 December 2011

Pancho Campo MW – Vinos de Madrid: a response from Robert Parker

Pancho Campo MW

I understand that Robert Parker has just posted the following statement on his website relating to my post Campogate: No Pay – No Jay:

"This blogger posted about Miller/Campo charging for tasting Spanish wines or for visiting Spanish wineries a while ago. We launched an investigation at that time despite the fact that both Miller/Campo denied all the allegations. We found no substance or truth to any of the allegations.

Now he has brought similar charges. This time we have requested our lawyers to fully examine every allegation again, and they have also retained an additional lawyer, from Madrid, to study the allegations, and if again false, consider legal action. Jay chooses and controls 100% of the wines he tastes and wineries he visits. He uses the Spanish Wine Academy (Pancho Campo is their President) to assist in organization. We would never permit a winery to pay us for the priviledge of tasting their wine or visiting the winery. Moreover, Campo also understands his organization cannot charge wineries for Miller's visits. Both of them have full knowledge that is an appalling conflict of interest that would not be tolerated under any circumstance. There have been trade conferences organized by the Spanish Wine Academy that Jay has been paid a fee of $10,000 (which seems reasonable) and far less than the amounts reported by this blogger.

I have been asked by our USA lawyers to refrain from commenting about this given the potential lawsuits by Jay, by Pancho, and possibly by TWA against these bloggers. Until we are 100% certain of all the facts, I think this subject, which appears to be a reckless and malicious disregard for the truth and clearly aimed at damaging Miller, Campo, and TWA, needs to be closed."

My comments:
I have never accused Jay Miller of taking money for visits to wineries or for tasting wine to be assessed for The Wine Advocate. On the two occasions I sent questions to Robert Parker I stressed that I was not accusing Miller of taking money for winery visits or for tasting wines that would be assessed for publication in The Wine Advocate. I have received no acknowledgment from either Parker or The Wine Advocate.

The only possible evidence that Miller might take money for visits to wine regions comes from the email sent by Pancho Campo MW on 3rd June 2011 at 15.30:

'Private visits off the set agenda, as this would be, rarely take place, and not for a price below 40,000 euros. The fact that Jay has agreed to stay 2 days more, and for half the usual price, is a miracle and an opportunity that Madrid will find it difficult to have again.'

Yesterday morning I sent Miller a copy of Campo's email and invited him to comment on this 'miracle'. I hope he will do so.

Far from being 'a reckless and malicious disregard for the truth' (possibly defamatory but I'll let that go) the posts on the proposed visits to Murcia and to DO Vinos de Madrid have been carefully based upon emails. In the case of Murcia on emails sent in October 2011 by officials in the regional ministry of agriculture and by Juan Antonio Ruiz Jimenéz of Asevin. I sent copies of these emails to Parker – again with no response or acknowledgment.

On 1st November 2011 I received an email from Jimenéz informing me that the article that had appeared on Jacques Berthomeau's site was based on completely false information and conclusions. As the article was based on the email Jimenéz had sent on 4th October 2011 to a number of bodegas in Murcia, I asked Jimenéz to let me know as quickly as possible what was false in his email as I was anxious to correct an false information on Jim's Loire as rapidly as possible. To date I am still awaiting a reply.

Thinking it would be helpful for Parker to see the additional Murcian emails, I emailed them to him with a copy going to The Wine Advocate's secretary on 23rd November 2011. I trust he got them as I have received no reply or acknowledgment to date.

Parker writes: 'We found no substance or truth to any of the allegations.' Since my post were based on the emails sent by officials in Murcia during October this appears to suggest that the information in these emails was either false or they are fakes. Again if this can be shown to be the case I will make any necessary amendments and retractions as rapidly as possible. To date there has been no evidence produced to indicate that the information they contain is false or that they are fakes.

Yesterday's post on the abortive visit to DO Vinos de Madrid proposed for July 2011 is based on emails sent between The Wine Academy of Spain and Vinos de Madrid and Aprovin. Copies of these emails were sent to DO Vinos de Madrid. If it would assist Mr Parker and his lawyers I will be happy to provide them with the original emails (in Spanish). Please email me on budmac@btinternet.com Again if these emails can be shown to contain false information or are fakes, then I will make any necessary amendments and retractions as rapidly as possible.

However, on current information, I stand by my posts on Murcia and DO Vinos de Madrid.




35 comments:

Hervé Lalau said...

"This blogger" who happens to be a journalist, and a good one at that, did a good job.
I am disappointed that Mr Parker is so careless. It's his credibility that is at stake. There is evidence of money being asked to DO's for all to see. How can he state that he examined the matter and found nothing?
I would more or less understand if he said "this kind of payments are common practice" or, "it doesn't prevent our tasters from being honest and fair to the wines" (although when the WA chooses not not visit one region, it is not fair). But this head in the sand policy is incredible from such a great figure of the wine sector.
BTW,I wish more journalists would make a stand in this matter.

Arto Koskelo said...

I find that this response very much raises questions about Parker's role in the shameful procedure now brought to light. Hopefully Parker will change his mind about the chosen approach because at this point it's not some blogger crafting a J'accuse by scrapping some Internet rumours together but the very evidence laid before the eyes of the world.

All the pieces for a Greek tragedy are now on the table.

Hervé Lalau said...

Here's a nice effort by Tim Atkin MW.

http://www.timatkin.com/articles?260

I wonder if he had a chance to talk about it with Parker and Campo at the Wine Future event.
Michel Bettane also wrote something about it, but blames the producers

Jim Budd said...

Hervé and Arto. Thanks for your comments and support. If Campo decides to sue me for what was contained in his email this I suspect will be a legal first.

Equally I cannot see how Parker can sue me – rather he should be suing Campo for the damage the 4th June (15.30) email does to his reputation and that of the Wine Advocate.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Parker might want to look at SLAPP lawsuits and how his bluster could very easily backfire on him. His "my attorneys are looking into this" chest-thumping is an old ploy of his to intimidate anyone who questions him, so this is par for the course. His defense of Miller is becoming a combination of sad and comical, with a healthy dash of arrogance. Gotta love the "we launched an investigation" part. Just like the FBI! Keep up the good work, Jim.

wedwardes said...

All wine writers should be free to accept all payments. They should be free to accept consulting and promotional payments. They may even be retailers / wholesalers and so have axes to grind.

But declare all fees and benefits received (incl. tennis and opera tickets) and conflicts of interest so readers can add salt if necessary.

Transparency is the key via a published register.

My earlier blogpost Wine Writers should Publish a Register of Interests

Arto Koskelo said...

Started to blog in English. First post's about Murciagate... From a different angle. Cheers!

http://koskeloonwine.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/the-hades-of-parker/

Vincent POUSSON said...

I don't know you, Jim, but I'm still waiting for the IMW's answer…

Jim Budd said...

Arto. Thank you. An excellent post on this as Greek tragedy and certainly recommended reading.

darrenbrogden said...

Warren, AFAIK there's nothing to prevent a wine writer from accepting payments for anything they write. The problem is with the integrity of those who deny taking any such payments but are caught doing so.

I agree that writers should be able to profit from their endeavours but transparency is vital to ensure that those reading an article are able to make an informed decision on the impartiality of the piece.

XtraKrispy said...

Who cares what the Wine Advocate has to say about anything? Let them pay or be paid. They are largely responsible for the worst trend in the wine business: SCORES. Not to mention they have horrible taste.

Luc Charlier said...

In some European countries, Parker used the be a famous brand for fountain pens. We call those items a “stylo”, in French. If you ask me, Bobby’s approach to this case is indeed ... still low. If Campo decides to sue, it will be a Greek tragedy indeed, ‘cause who wants to sue ... Helen(s) ?

Vincent POUSSON said...

"Blogueros de medio pelo" said the chilean MW in Valencia:
http://javiprats.blogspot.com/2011/12/cata-de-vinos-en-valencia-con-jay.html

Vincent POUSSON said...

… which means "second-rate" in English, sorry!

Anonymous said...

This stinks to high heaven. The picture of this Pancho guy says a lot. So do the ones of Dr. Miller.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, try and find info on Jay Miller and his once post as WA's Australian wine reviewer. Bought and paid for?...

Jim Budd said...

Vincent. I much prefer the Chilean MW's damnation to his praise.

Alastair said...

In a blog post, I once described Jim Budd as a man, so straight talking, his words come out on EU approved cucumbers. In this case (as in every other I am aware of) he been persistent but consistent and fair, and at every opportunity has offered a right of response and redress (to which the Parker community has exercised its right to remain silent). It is a simple enough matter for the other parties to address your points and provide supporting evidence to prove that the information you are reporting is fake or tampered with, and it would destroy their credibility if it took a court of law to make such a simple point.
Keep up the good work, Jim. You have the power of the majority on your side.

Jim Budd said...

Alastair

Many thanks for your support. I have been delighted by the support I have received from many people.

Jim's Loire has received close on 6000 visits* over the past two days, which shows that this 'subject' is far from being 'closed' as Robert Parker would like. Instead it has been blown wide open. It would be good to think that he could draw back and take a proper look at the evidence and set that against Campo's bluster.

* Jim's Loire has a detailed sitemeter open to all.

Anonymous said...

Great work here, Mr. Budd. You are a credit to the industry. Seconding the mention about Mr. Miller's behaviour while on the WA Australia beat. Lots of dirty laundry there. Plenty of it in Argentina, too, apparently. The man's judgment is perplexing and that of his boss even more so.

Jim Budd said...

Thank you anon. Much credit has to be given to Harold Heckle, who obtained the emails, which so clearly show what has been going on. When I first saw them I thought they were explosive and I still do.

dthirkell said...

When one loses ethics, they lose their soul.

Vincent POUSSON said...

So do I, Jim…

Erica said...

Good job Jim, this is what journalism is all about. Getting the facts on the table, and allowing people to respond to the materials (in advance even) if they feel wrongly accused. I think we see today that your articles had truth to them.

Alexandra Forbes said...

As a fellow journalist, all I can say is thank you, and congratulations on your bravery.

Alana Gentry said...

As a wine writer and a former owner of a talent management agency for corporate speakers, it looks like grey areas exist between Mr. Miller's speaking fees and role as a wine critic.

Campo wrote, "Private visits off the set agenda, as this would be, rarely take place, and not for a price below 40,000 euros. The fact that Jay has agreed to stay 2 days more, and for half the usual price, is a miracle and an opportunity that Madrid will find it difficult to have again."

This is jargon that is used every day when negotiating/discussing speaking fees. My theory is that this "confusion" could be used as a legal and public defense.

Jim Budd said...

Alana. Thank you. I think Campo's Tuscan email should be read in conjunction with Richer's email to Madrid earlier that day (4th June 2011).

Alana Gentry said...

Oh wow. I read the other post and see what you mean. Mea culpa. Blame it on my non-journalist background, I wasn't following closely but my goodness, this is extremely damning for everyone involved. My hat's off to you for covering the story.

Jim Budd said...

Thank you Alana.

Gerry Dawes said...

(Jim Budd) My comments:
I have never accused Jay Miller of taking money for visits to wineries or for tasting wine to be assessed for The Wine Advocate. On the two occasions I sent questions to Robert Parker I stressed that I was not accusing Miller of taking money for winery visits or for tasting wines that would be assessed for publication in The Wine Advocate. I have received no acknowledgment from either Parker or The Wine Advocate.

The only possible evidence that Miller might take money for visits to wine regions comes from the email sent by Pancho Campo MW on 3rd June 2011 at 15.30:

'Private visits off the set agenda, as this would be, rarely take place, and not for a price below 40,000 euros. The fact that Jay has agreed to stay 2 days more, and for half the usual price, is a miracle and an opportunity that Madrid will find it difficult to have again.'

Uh, the D.O. Madrid is just outside Madrid 45 minutes to an hour in different directions (southeast and west) and, one assumes, that he would be doing one of his famous "master tastings" at a Madrid D.O. event on a specific day. So why would it require Miller to stay an extra two days? What else was he being paid for?

Jim Budd said...

Gerry. Fair questions that remain unanswered. Jay Miller has chosen not to acknowledge or answer any questions I have sent him. Nor to my knowledge has he provided any answers publicly to anyone else.

The mix of official and 'free-lance' in the visits looks a very cosy arrangement and, although Miller can claim that he wasn't directly paid to visit a region and taste their wine, the masterclasses and 'seminars' look like ill-fitting fig leaves which allowed Miller to accept payment.

Jack Bulkin said...

Nice job blogger. WA has posted the results of the "independent investigation" on the site.

Gerry Dawes said...

Posted on Jim's Loire, Dec. 1, 2011:

I understand that Robert Parker has just posted the following statement on his website relating to my post Campogate: No Pay – No Jay:

"This blogger posted about Miller/Campo charging for tasting Spanish wines or for visiting Spanish wineries a while ago. We launched an investigation at that time despite the fact that both Miller/Campo denied all the allegations. We found no substance or truth to any of the allegations.

Now he has brought similar charges. This time we have requested our lawyers to fully examine every allegation again, and they have also retained an additional lawyer, from Madrid, to study the allegations, and if again false, consider legal action. Jay chooses and controls 100% of the wines he tastes and wineries he visits. He uses the Spanish Wine Academy (Pancho Campo is their President) to assist in organization. We would never permit a winery to pay us for the priviledge (sic) of tasting their wine or visiting the winery. Moreover, Campo also understands his organization cannot charge wineries for Miller's visits. Both of them have full knowledge that is an appalling conflict of interest that would not be tolerated under any circumstance. There have been trade conferences organized by the Spanish Wine Academy that Jay has been paid a fee of $10,000 (which seems reasonable) and far less than the amounts reported by this blogger.

I have been asked by our USA lawyers to refrain from commenting about this given the potential lawsuits by Jay, by Pancho, and possibly by TWA against these bloggers. Until we are 100% certain of all the facts, I think this subject, which appears to be a reckless and malicious disregard for the truth and clearly aimed at damaging Miller, Campo, and TWA, needs to be closed."

This reads like something out of Mitt Romney's "Etch-a-sketch" play book.

Jim Budd said...

Gerry. Richly ironic that Robert Parker has shelled out thousands of dollars to prove that he, Parker, was wrong 'a reckless and malicious disregard for the truth'? and what we actually posted was correct.

McSnobbelier said...

Vindication for you, congrats.