Realizing that the conclusion would be drawn in the press that we had scrambled to react to circumstances on short notice, I wanted to let you know - at the risk of arousing new suspicions on your parts about my veracity! - that this was not the case.
I realize too, that Bob's having today written that "[a]fter several months of consideration, Big Jay ... has decided to return to wine consulting" might well be interpreted as referring to recent deliberations. Nevertheless, they were not at all recent.
An e-mail record confirming the upshot of my January conversations with Bob does not exist until my August 4 acceptance of new responsibilities, in which I refer to those January conversations.
In that August 4 communication, Bob officially asks me to declare my intentions about covering Oregon and Washington after "Jay['s] retiring the end of 2011 (not announced)" The first sentence in my reply reads "You mentioned this to me in January on the phone, so I am at least psychologically prepared!" Neal's assumption of Spanish coverage is not mentioned in that e-mail but is implicit in the exchange, as he was formally asked at this same time to take on that assignment. I am sure that Neal's records - if not from August, then from very soon thereafter - will confirm this.
On November 4, Bob e-mailed me and Neal together to let us know on what day (December 5) he would be posting his bi-monthly run-down of the new issue's contents and simultaneously making the announcement about staff changes and our new assignments.
$64,000 (or Euro) question (now answered)
What still needs to be established is – will Jay Miller be writing up for The Wine Advocate the visits be has made over the last ten days or so to Jerez, Murcia, Valencia and the tasting of DO Vinos de Madrid wines that was hastily arranged for last Thursday (1st December)? I understand that nothing by Miller is scheduled for the next issue of The Wine Advocate.
It is clear that the producers in Valencia and Murcia expected that the wines they submitted to be assessed and rated by Miller with the lucky ones getting coverage in The Wine Advocate. Murcia paid 29,000€ and Valencia 35,000€ (total 64,000€) for Pancho Campo MW to bring Miller to taste and rate their wines. They certainly did not paid that money for cata magistrals/marketing seminars no matter how Campo dresses it up.
They wanted the magic points that they believed would open doors in the US and get their wines on the shelves. They wouldn't have paid 64,000€ for a few words from Miller and the thoughts of a Chilean MW even though becoming an MW just five years after leaving Dubai, where there was little or no wine culture, is undoubtedly a remarkable achievement. Thus whether Miller writes up his recent visits is much more than an academic question. There is also the important question of when Campo knew that Miller would be retiring.
If Miller is not to write up these visits, especially Murcia and Valencia, and if this was known before the visits were made, then were not Murcia and Valencia seriously misled at best and, at worst, possibly defrauded?
Jay Miller will be writing reports on his recent visits:
Clarification received from Joan Passman, secretary, The Wine Advocate