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




Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Jay Miller and The Wine Academy: Report by Cozen O'Connor


April 1 0, 201 2

Jay Miller and The Wine Academy of Spain: Internal Investigation


I.              Introduction


The Wine Advocate engaged this Firm to investigate whether The Wine Advocate's standards of independence had been compromised in Spain. In particular, various Internet blogs suggested in the Fall of 2011 that Jay Miller and/or Pancho Campo and The Wine Academy of Spain accepted payment for visiting wineries and tasting wines in Spain for rating by The Wine Advocate. Our investigation focused on answering two main questions:

1.         Did Jay Miller receive anything of value to visit any wineries or taste any wines for rating by The Wine Advocate?

2.          Was there confusion between Jay Miller's tastings conducted for rating by The Wine Advocate and the "private" seminars not conducted under the auspices of The Wine Advocate for which Miller received payment? If so, why, and who was responsible for creating the confusion?

To help answer those questions, we engaged Kroll Associates to conduct numerous interviews on the ground in Spain with wineries, trade associations, government officials, and representatives of The Wine Academy of Spain. Our joint investigation included the review of substantial amounts of documents, including contracts, electronic mail communications, blog posts, invoices, financial statements, written statements by principals and wineries and trade organizations, travel records, and business records of The Wine Advocate. We even solicited input from many of the bloggers who first reported the story. 1 In addition, we conducted interviews of current and former representatives of The Wine Advocate in both the United States and in the U.K.
The joint investigation, which was conducted over a four-month period, resulted in an extraordinarily detailed report containing more than 2,000 pages of exhibits. In summary, the investigation did not reveal any evidence that Jay Miller received anything of value to visit wineries or taste wines on behalf of The Wine Advocate. Nonetheless, the investigation revealed that arrangements in Spain -whereby tastings for The Wine Advocate were allowed to occur in close proximity to paid, private events-created an appearance of impropriety that fell short of the high standards that The Wine Advocate set for itself. In light of these findings, we recommended that The Wine Advocate implement several measures to prevent even an appearance of impropriety from taking hold again.

II.            Jay Miller's Assignment in Spain

In 2009, after working with Pancho Campo ("Campo") and The Wine Academy of Spain ("TWAS") at a Wine Future event, Robert Parker asked Campo to assist Jay Miller with the logistics and translations for Miller's trips to Spain for The Wine Advocate. Miller did not speak Spanish, and Parker wanted to increase The Wine Advocate's coverage of Spanish wines. Campo agreed to help, at no charge, and thereafter assisted Miller with the organization of the logistics for his trips and guided him through various wine-producing regions of Spain. Campo was advised that all of Miller's expenses would be paid by The Wine Advocate.
Over the course of five trips to Spain, Campo and TWAS assisted Miller in arranging two species of events: (1) tastings for potential rating in The Wine Advocate, and (2) private tasting events organized and promoted by TWAS for which Miller/Campo received payment. The tastings for rating in The Wine Advocate consisted of tastings at the D.O. of a certain region, as well as additional tastings at approximately three to four wineries per day. According to Jay Miller, he typically provided a list of wineries to Campo that would fill approximately 75% of his schedule; this left a portion of his schedule (approximately 25%, by Miller's estimation; much lower by Campo's estimation) to be completed with recommendations from Campo. [The investigation confirmed that no one else at The Wine Advocate was aware of Campo's significant role in proposing wineries to visit.]
In addition to the tastings for The Wine Advocate, Miller participated in four private tasting events in 2011 organized by Campo and his staff at TWAS. These events -hosted by D.O.'s, trade groups, and wine consortiums -consisted of meetings with wine makers, press conferences, interviews, photo opportunities, and public seminars and wine tastings. The wines tasted during a private event were previously tasted and/or highly rated for The Wine Advocate. In part because of the language barrier, Campo and TWAS handled all contacts and negotiations for these events without Jay Miller's involvement or knowledge; Campo sought Miller's approval for an event only in the final stages of negotiations. For his participation in each event, Miller received approximately $8,000 - $10,000 directly from TWAS.


III.         No Evidence of Actual Impropriety

The investigation did not reveal any evidence of actual impropriety. First, the investigation did not uncover evidence that Jay Miller received anything of value for visits he made to any D.O.'s or to any wineries in Spain to conduct tastings for rating in The Wine Advocate. Numerous D.O.'s, trade associations, and wineries signed certifications stating they did not pay Miller to visit wineries to conduct tastings for The Wine Advocate. Moreover, our interviews of representatives of Spanish wineries -as well as representatives of D.O.'s, trade associations, and TWAS -did not reveal or suggest the existence of any such payments.

Second, the investigation did not reveal any evidence of payment from wineries to fund any private event from which Jay Miller received payment from TWAS. All fees for the private events were paid to TWAS by either the D.O. of the particular region where the event was conducted or private trade groups and consortiums. The investigation did not find evidence that wineries whose wines were featured at these private events contributed money to pay for the events. Specifically, with regard to the ASEVIN event in Murcia in November 2011, despite the inability to obtain sufficient information or records from ASEVIN, this investigation did not reveal any actual evidence that wineries made payments to sponsor this event. There was plainly an early attempt by ASEVIN to solicit such contributions, which was improper, but the bloggers' reports and the reactions to them in Fall 2011 caused ASEVIN quickly to retract those earlier communications and apparently reverse course. The investigation uncovered no evidence that TWAS, Miller, or any representative of The Wine Advocate knew of or was involved in any of ASEVIN's communications to its constituent wineries.

IV.         Appearance of Impropriety

Although the investigation found no evidence of actual impropriety, it did reveal that the actions (or inaction) of Jay Miller, Pancho Campo, and TWAS compromised the integrity of The Wine Advocate by creating an appearance of impropriety. Regardless whether this appearance was created unintentionally or not, the effect on The Wine Advocate is the same. Robert Parker and the staff at The Wine Advocate placed Campo -a man with myriad, legitimate commercial relationships with wineries across Spain -in a position that provided him with an opportunity to exert some control over Miller's itinerary in Spain without adequately briefing him about The Wine Advocate's strict standards safeguarding its independence.2 Furthermore, Jay Miller did not speak Spanish, and, as a result, was dependent on Campo to make all arrangements with minimal oversight from The Wine Advocate. This difficulty was exacerbated by Miller's lack of knowledge and interest regarding the details of Campo's negotiations.
 As a result, an appearance of impropriety was created in two ways. First, by Miller permitting Campo to play a significant role in selecting wineries for Miller to visit to conduct tastings for The Wine Advocate coupled with Miller's inability to monitor TWAS's negotiations to facilitate those visits, a perception (well-founded or not) could take root that Campo had some role in facilitating ratings for wines in The Wine Advocate. Second, the investigation concluded that, whether intentionally or not, Campo blurred the lines between tastings for rating in The Wine Advocate and TWAS-sponsored private events. For example, the contracts for private events negotiated by Campo and TWAS, for which the sponsor paid approximately €30,000, usually included at least one day of visits to local wineries as part of the program.3 Even though the contracts expressly stated that these visits were not related to the paid event, the close proximity of the private events to these local tastings had the potential to create an inappropriate ambiguity between the two in the public eye. Furthermore, Jay Miller was unaware of any terms of these contracts, and it was his understanding that any visit to a winery was part of an unpaid tasting for rating in The Wine Advocate. Thus, it is likely that, at some point after May 2011, Jay Miller tasted wines for The Wine Advocate (i.e., unpaid) on a visit to a winery that -unbeknownst to Miller -could have been perceived as part of a paid event.
Thus, while this investigation revealed no evidence of actual impropriety, we believe that the dynamic of Miller and Campo's collaboration in Spain -even if undertaken with the best of intentions -created an appearance of impropriety.


V.            Jay Miller's Resignation

The investigation concluded that Jay Miller's resignation from The Wine Advocate was not related to the controversy in Spain. In January 2011, Jay Miller and Robert Parker jointly agreed that 2011 would be Miller's last year with The Wine Advocate. Soon thereafter, Parker informed both David Schildknecht and Neal Martin of Miller's impending resignation and asked whether they would be interested in taking over his assigned regions. These January 2011 communications are corroborated by emails exchanged among the trio, and emails in which Messrs. Schildknecht and Martin each accepted the new assignments well in advance of Fall 2011. On November 4, 2011, Parker again emailed Schildknecht and Martin to inform them that Parker would be making the official announcement about Miller’s resignation in December 2011. The announcement was posted on the eRobertParker.com website on December 4, 2011, and Miller’s resignation became effective on January 1, 2012.
Thus, there is no merit to the suggestion that Miller's resignation was related to the allegations concerning his activities in Spain.

VI.        Recommendations

Based on our investigation, we recommended that The Wine Advocate implement the following measures:

1.       Sever relations with Pancho Campo and The Wine Academy of Spain. This step would be advisable regardless whether Campo's actions intentionally or unintentionally created an appearance of impropriety. In any event, Campo has announced publicly that he will "move on" from wine business and The Wine Academy of Spain following its recent merger with another company.

2.       Adopt a new rule regarding private events by contractors. Presently, there is no requirement that private events be approved in advance by The Wine Advocate. In the future, contractors should be required to provide The Wine Advocate details in advance about, among other things, (a) the amount of any fees charged by the contractor and any business partners, (b) the source of any fees, (c) the full schedule of the program, and (d) the list of wines to be tasted at the program (and confirmation that the wines have been previously rated in The Wine Advocate).

3.         Make revisions to The Wine Advocate's Writer Standards. The Writer Standards have not been amended since 2009. In light of recent events, we recommend certain procedural and substantive changes, including:

a.      Broader Applicability. In its current form, the specific terms of the Writer Standards apply only to Robert Parker. Contractors, on the other hand are “held to high but less stringent and demanding standards” that require them, without specific guidance, to “maintain rigid standards of independence and integrity." An amended version of the Writer Standards should make it clear -both to the public and contractors -that anyone rating wines for The Wine Advocate must conduct themselves in accordance with certain specific rules and should seek clarification of those rules, if in doubt, directly from Robert Parker.

b.          Annual Certifications. Contractors should be required to sign and submit annual certifications to The Wine Advocate in which they pledge to conduct themselves in accordance with the amended Writer's Standards. These certifications should include a pledge to seek approval of The Wine Advocate before accepting benefits for private events, publications, or business ventures.

4.       Amend Independent Contractor Agreements. Each contractor's agreement with The Wine Advocate should include provisions in which the contractor, upon penalty of termination of the parties' relationship, agrees to (a) conduct himself/herself in accordance with the Writer's Standards, and (b) seek approval of The Wine Advocate before accepting benefits for private events/publications.

5.     Decline to Publish Jay Miller's Ratings of Spanish Wine Submitted after June 30,2011. The Wine Advocate has not published reviews of Spanish wine by Jay Miller since June 30, 2011, with one minor exception described below.4 Three of the four paid events in which Miller participated occurred after this date. The safest course to uphold the independence and integrity of The Wine Advocate is to decline to publish any additional reviews by Miller, even if he acted only in good faith throughout his trips in Spain.

6.         Continue the Practice of Actively Supervising Contactors' Reviews. For many years, Robert Parker has periodically tasted for himself wines reviewed by sampling of the wines, in general, but always tasted all of the highly rated wines. Parker never took issue with reviews of Spanish wines submitted by Jay Miller. This practice provides an additional protection that reviews in The Wine Advocate will not be influenced by any potential conflict of interest by a contractor.

7.     Require Greater Detail for Reimbursement of Expenses. TWAS submitted its expenses to The Wine Advocate on a single invoice with no supporting documentation-i.e., no actual receipts of its or Jay Miller's expenses in Spain. In the future, timely submissions of detailed invoices with appropriate substantiation should be a condition of payment to ensure that expenses can be properly tracked against activities conducted by contractors and others engaged by The Wine Advocate.

8.         Refuse to Allow Contractors to Conduct Private Events While Traveling for The Wine Advocate. This policy is designed to eliminate appearances of impropriety like those created by the apparent intersection of paid and unpaid events conducted by Jay Miller and The Wine Academy of Spain.

9.           Cooperate with the Parallel Investigation of These Matters Being Conducted by the International Masters of Wine. The Wine Advocate conducted this investigation with seriousness of purpose and integrity. In that same spirit, it should offer to cooperate with the parallel inquiry into these matters by the International Masters of Wine.

Footnotes:
1.     For example, Jim Budd and Associated Press reporter Harold Heckle ultimately accepted our invitation to cooperate with the investigation.
2.     Although Miller always retained "veto" power over wines and wineries suggested by Campo - and thereby ultimate control over his itinerary -Miller admitted that he never had reason to exercise this power with any of Campo's recommendations.
3.     For instance, the contract for the Navarra paid event, which occurred on July 4, 20 II, provided an option for visits to wineries by Miller and Campo as part of the €35,000 fee. Likewise, even after the present controversy was publicized by bloggers, ASEVIN publicly announced that its paid event with Jay Miller in November 2011 would include "visits to wineries."
4.     On February 29, 2012, The Wine Advocate published Miller's reviews of wines tasted at Hotel Wellington in Madrid on or about December I, 2011 - many weeks after the present "scandal" exploded on the Internet. It is undisputed, however, that no one (Miller, Campo, or TWAS) received any compensation for that tasting, and that the Madrid D.O. did not pay for any private event organized by TWAS.

26 comments:

Luc Charlier said...

The best comment is « No comment ».

Arto Koskelo said...

What is this? Seriously? I think the hole Wine Advocate has dug just got deeper.

Anonymous said...

Lots of hot air blowimg through there.

Anonymous said...

Comments from Siobhan Turner of the IMW in proensa.com 27/3/2012“Debo añadir, termina Siobhan Turner, que yo no puedo comentar nada sobre la investigación de Parker, excepto para decir que escribí al señor Parker a principios de diciembre, cuando establecimos nuestra investigación, y le pedí que nos proporcione toda la información pertinente que descubrió. No he tenido ninguna respuesta a esa carta.”

Rough translation.
"I must add, ..... that I can´t make any comment on the Parker investigation except to say that I wrote to Mr Parker at the beginning of December, when we initiated our investigation, requesting that he share all pertinent information that he uncovered. I haven´t received any response to that letter."

Bill Klapp said...

There are several curious things here. First and foremost, one would have thought that at least a THIRD question would have been asked, to the effect, "Did Pancho Campo, an independent contractor hired by the Wine Advocate, engage in any untoward or unethical behavior?" Secondly, it is interesting that the ethical canons of the American Bar Association require all lawyers to avoid "even the APPEARANCE of impropriety" or face sanctions. That is not, admittedly, a standard that the WA was required to subscribe to (well, perhaps applicable to Parker if he kept up his bar membership). However, there appear in the report admissions that the appearance of impropriety standard was breached on multiple occasions by multiple parties. Indeed, all of the suggested changes calculated to address the "appearance" issue in the future are pretty much what the WA readership, Jim and others were demanding for what appeared to be some level of ACTUAL impropriety. Thus, this seems to me a bit like a tussle between, say, a Goldman Sachs and the SEC, where the SEC, knowing that Goldman is demonstrably guilty of securities fraud, lets it pay a billion-dollar fine without admitting the obvious guilt nor having Goldman executives subject to criminal prosecution. The report seems to be saying "we find nothing wrong here, but we are going to suggest new laws to keep this from ever happening again". Fair enough, to the extent that the latter was what WA's critics demanded. But please do not blow the "independent and thorough investigation" silliness up my fanny...

Paul Hereford said...

Not surprisingly, any comments will take the tone of moer and harsher shots at The Wine Advocate. I am honestly surprised that TWA even bothered with the investigation, as there is no amount of anything that will ever change the minds of those who have already made them up. The black helicopters (with Jay Miller in the passenger seat) continue to circle for the conspiracy theorists because it suits their agenda.

Anonymous said...

I feel very sorry for the countless Spanish producers who were led on a merry dance and whipped into a frenzy to contribute money (either via DOs or directly to organisations then to the Wine Acadamy of Spain).

Some people have lined their pockets yet wineries who acted on what they thought was correct have been fleeced and will not have ratings for their wines.

The whole Wine Advocate - Spain relationship has been damaged irrecoverably.

Neil Martin will do a good job whilst being very stretched but is also undermined by Robert Parker who has decided to cover value Spanish wines in June and August issues with only certain importers.

Bit of a dog´s dinner really.

Anonymous said...

International Masters of Wine ??? (Shome mishtake, shurely? Ed)

Bill Klapp said...

Paul, with all due respect, Parker and The Wine Advocate have richly earned virtually every shot taken. Don't pretend that Parker is not the most agenda-driven of us all, surrounding himself with yes men (many of whom are rather embarassing know-nothings) and then enclosing them within the warm and fuzzy Squires board, while locking out meaningful, interesting discussion and debate. Maintaing the absolute rectitude of a single person's views about wine seems like the ultimate agenda to me. I do not suspect Jay Miller or Parker of grand corrupt plots involving Spanish wine reviewing. I suspect both of them of poor judgment from time to time, which appears to be endemic in Parker's case. Did you happen to notice that Campo, a Master of Wine no less, had decided to flee the wine biz, just as he fled other business ventures in the past when the warrants for his arrest went out? And he did not even flee in a black helicopter (although he might have absconded in somebody else's Ferrari). March to Parker's beat if you like, Paul, but get a grip on the reality of this situation...

WineLush said...

I think in the statement where they referenced no Jay reviews would be posted after such and such time kinds says it all. Plus the fact they arent sharing their 2,000 pages of evidence with Siobhan Turner for the IMW investigation plus Pancho walking away from an MW to do projects outside of wine pretty much ties it in a tidy little package. I mean who walks away from an MW? It takes 4-10 years to get that certification. Oh I forgot, grifters do. Allegedly.

Jim Budd said...

Anon: 'International Masters of Wine'

Anon. One of several errors and typos in this summary report. Hope the investigation didn't cost very much!

Jim Budd said...

Wine Lush: Indeed significant that no Jay Miller reviews will be published from the second half of 2011 will now be published except for DO Vinos de Madrid already published.

Hard for the regions that paid for the various Masters Classes and Seminars associated with Miller's visits.

Ian S said...

QUOTE
Footnotes:

1. For example, Jim Budd and Associated Press reporter Harold Heckle ultimately accepted our invitation to cooperate with the investigation.
UNQUOTE

Ultimately accepted our invitation to cooperate!!! Jeez that's written to make it sound like you and Harold were suspects on trial!!

Disgraceful wording, that betrays their remit.

There are at least some sensible/prefessional changes in here, but it's very clear that it's worded by someone who doesn't want to offend a potential repeat client.

Of course that's no surprise. It's the way these things work.

regards
Ian

Jim Budd said...

Ian S: I'm assuming this is a mistake what they meant was: 'we ultimately got round to contacting Harold Heckle and Jim Budd'.

Gerry Dawes said...

And Parker's own "appearance of impropriety" in imperiously ignoring all the blazing signs of Pancho Campo's shady modus operandi?

I mean it takes one Hell of leap of faith to put your Spain coverage in the hands of a man just coming off a suspicious clearing of his listing on an Interpol warrant.

And who in Parker's circle of confidants told him that it was okay to put Miller in Campo's hands to use as a tool to generate business and influence for himself?

I could put up a list of some very famous names in the world of wine who collaborated in this affair, but many of you know who they are. They should all be ashamed of themselves for their part in helping to set this situation up.

All in all, this whole affair, to use the favorite descriptor from the Campo campo, is quite "disgusting."

Jim Budd said...

Gerry. If Campo was appointed to look after Miller before July 2010 Campo would have still been wanted by Interpol.

Anonymous said...

Jim,

When can you expect an apology from Mr Parker?

Jim Budd said...

Anon. Would be good but I have very long odds on this happening.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jim - you (and others) have effectively revealed a scam. Though the "inquiry" clears Parker himself (but then I do not think any of us thought it was likely he was guilty of anything more than failing to check adequately and/or excessive loyalty), its delicate wording indicates just what a mess the Wine Advocate got itself into re Spanish wines and the difficulties it will have extracting itself from this - I will be interested to see if Eric A in the NYT picks this up,

Graham

Tim Atkin MW said...

"For example, Jim Budd and Associated Press reporter Harold Heckle ultimately accepted our invitation to cooperate with the investigation."

Would you like to comment on this, please, Jim? "Ultimately" makes it sound like you were unwilling to cooperate. I don't think that was the case, was it?

Jim Budd said...

Tim. Thanks.

I think this is either poorly phrased – ultimately is meant in the sense that they ultimately contacted Harold and I – or it was put in spare their client's blushes for having posted such 'malicious nonsense' on his bulletin board in mid-February 2012.

I will be posting an amended footnote on Jim's Loire.

Gerry Dawes said...

"For example, Jim Budd and Associated Press reporter Harold Heckle ultimately accepted our invitation to cooperate with the investigation."

This statement is disengenuous and, dare I say, "disgusting!"

Gerry Dawes said...

"The investigation concluded that Jay Miller's resignation from The Wine Advocate was not related to the controversy in Spain. In January 2011, Jay Miller and Robert Parker jointly agreed that 2011 would be Miller's last year with The Wine Advocate. Soon thereafter, Parker informed both David Schildknecht and Neal Martin of Miller's impending resignation and asked whether they would be interested in taking over his assigned regions. These January 2011 communications are corroborated by emails exchanged among the trio, and emails in which Messrs. Schildknecht and Martin each accepted the new assignments well in advance of Fall 2011."

Admittedly knowing that he was "resigning," Miller still took those hefty payments for conducting the "magistral tastings" set up by Campo.

Let's see, several Spanish regions paid wads of money, $8,000 - $10,000 of which went to Miller, a man who did not speak Spanish, who knew little of Spain (except what Pancho Campo showed him) and little of Spanish wines?

Amid a growing controversy, with Miller knowing he was quitting "well in advance of Fall 2011," (he resigned within less than a month of having collected such hefty payments from the Valencia and Murcia D.O.s), "Big Jay" still went along with Campo organizing these magistral tastings and charging those outrageous fees?

By paying those big fees, both Valencia and Murcia undoubtedly thought they were going to obtain influence with Miller and reviews in The Wine Advocate validating their wines (their bad!).

Can you imagine how those D.O.s felt after paying out such sums and finding out, just days later in Valencia's case, that Miller was resigning, then finding out that his resignation had been in the works since January, then finding out that none of his reviews from his visits to Valencia and Murcia would be appearing in The Wine Advocate?

"Appearance of impropriety," my ass. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it could damn well be a duck!"

Gerry Dawes said...

You are right, Jim, I stand corrected. Parker did hand over the Miller "lamb" for Campo to shepherd while he was still being sought by Interpol (and it had been documented that Campo had been detained for questioning by both the French and Spanish police).

But, was Parker going to listen to the mountain of evidence about Campo being published by a bunch of "malicious bloggers?" Obviously not, yet Parker now wants to claim that he was ignorant of what was going on and guilty of improperly supervising the activities of Miller in Spain, when on several occasions he maligned "that blogger" and others for bringing evidence of Campo's and Miller's activities to light.

Yet again, Mr. Parker would like to have it both ways.

Harold Heckle said...

There are quite a few aspects to this investigation and its conclusions that trouble me, of which three stand out in particular.

First, the words “ultimately accepted our invitation to cooperate” are mischievous, to say the least. For the record, this is what happened. At around 23:15 on Thursday, 19 January, Jim phoned to advise that he had just forwarded to me an e-mail from Stephen A. Miller of Cozen O'Connor in Philadelphia requesting assistance regarding the Miller/Campo case.

Over the phone, we rapidly concluded it was a good idea to help because this could focus attention on a worrying situation that had escalated and was enraging a large segment of the Spanish wine industry.

Miller's e-mail had been sent to Jim at 21:19 that same day, and was titled, “Subject: Request for Assistance.” For the record, also, Miller addressed me as “Howard.”

At 11:38 the next day, i.e., after a night's sleep and breakfast, we replied, saying the following:

Thank you for your messages.

Please note that Mr Heckle's first name is Harold and not Howard.

We will be happy to supply you with documents and pertinent information.

So, in less than a day, Cozen O'Connor had written agreement from us, confirming we would supply material from our archives and files to aid in their investigation. Ultimately, that is the truth. There was no “invitation to cooperate” - what there was, was a prompt and positive response to a request for assistance.

Next, I am concerned by Cozen O'Connor's statement that: 'In any event, Campo has announced publicly that he will "move on" from wine business and The Wine Academy of Spain following its recent merger with another company.' Here in Spain there is no evidence whatsoever that the Wine Academy has merged with anything. All there appears to be is a new website design and a new name, Chrand Management, which lists the Wine Academy as its owner in its legal notice.

Finally, where Cozen O'Connor asks, 'Did Jay Miller receive anything of value to visit any wineries or taste any wines for rating by The Wine Advocate?' - I would like to pose the following question.

What did those elements of the Spanish wine trade that paid so much for the Campo/Miller visits get for their money?

Gerry Dawes said...

Harold Heckle wrote: "Finally, where Cozen O'Connor asks, 'Did Jay Miller receive anything of value to visit any wineries or taste any wines for rating by The Wine Advocate?' - I would like to pose the following question.

What did those elements of the Spanish wine trade that paid so much for the Campo/Miller visits get for their money?

Harold, since The Wine Advocate declared that, because of the "appearance of impropriety," they were squelching Jay Miller's reviews of the wines of Valencia and Murcia, indeed Miller did not receive anything of value for those related visits "to any wineries or tasting any wines for rating by The Wine Advocate."

What Miller did receive something of substantial value for was the implied promise that if these D.O.s paid Pancho Campo (and thus Miller) that he would visit wineries in their regions and that their wines would be reviewed in the Wine Advocate and, presumably, given Miller's liberal high scoring modus operandi, reviewed well.

As it turned out Miller was paid substantial sums to show up, put on what by many Spanish accounts a tasting that showed his depth of ignorance about Spain and Spanish wines, then piggy back that onto winery visits on the same trip (with hotel and expenses paid for his whole stay).

So Miller did receive plenty of value for those visits related "to any wineries or tasting any wines for rating by The Wine Advocate." What happened later caused him not to deliver, because The Wine Advocate spiked his reviews in light of the scandal.

There is little doubt about those implications, but what those wine regions got for shelling out muchos Euros in their view was a royal screwing, pure and simple.

That is one Hell of an "appearance of impropriety!"