Monday 31 October 2011
Jumillagate or more properly Murciagate – some questions
On the 26th October, a copy of this email sent on 4th October by Juan Antonio Ruiz Jiménez, the secretary of Asevin (Asocianción de Vinos de Jumila) to some 20 or 30 bodegas in the Murcia region was published here on Facebook by Vincent Pousson, who lives in Barcelona.
Entitled 'Urgente Participatión Bodegas en Vista Jay Miller' (Urgent call to bodegas who want to participate in a visit Jay Miller) the email set out a tariff for those wineries who wished to be involved in a visit by Jay Miller, who is part of the Robert Parker team and who has a responsibility for reporting on Spain for the Wine Advocate and erobert parker.
Jimenez explained that the cost of the visit was approximately 29,000€. Any bodegas wishing to be involved in Jay Miller's visit would be charged according to the following tariff:
1) Between 200-300€ for each wine submitted for tasting.
2) 500€ for each wine submitted for consideration for inclusion in a master class – presumably to be given by Jay Miller during the course of his visit.
3) 1000€ if a bodega wanted to be visited by Jay Miller.
The story took off this morning when Vincent Pousson posted the story on Jacques Berthomeau's blog here. Assuming that the email from the secretary of Asevin to various bodegas in the DOs of Bullas, Jumilla and Yecla is genuine, it raises a number of questions.
a) I assume that the bodgas contacted are all members of Asevin, so is this cost of 29,000 € a fee that the organisation is charging its members in addition to any membership fees Asevin charges?
b) Or is the 29,000€ (or part of it) going to some organisation, company or individual who has undertaken to arrange this visit of Jay Miller? On both Facebook and Jacques Berthomeau's blog there are suggestions that Pancho Campo MW and his Wine Academy of Spain are in some way involved, although from the email above there is no indication that this is the case. However, Pancho Campo MW and Jay Miller have made visits together in the past – Navarra (in July 2011) and Priorat (in the early part of 2011).
c) How was this figure of 29,000€ calculated?
d) How long will Jay Miller be in the Murcia region? 29,000€ is a considerable sum. This would fund a lengthy stay, which might be justified under the code of Robert Parker's 'OURWINE CRITIC ETHICS and STANDARDS':
'I expect the writers to learn about the regions they cover from first-hand observation, but I demand they have access to all wines, not just one particular sub-segment category or region. Moreover, I require full disclosure of such hospitality they receive in the articles that emanate from these trips.'
'It is essential for a wine critic to taste as comprehensibly as is physically possible, which means tasting every significant wine produced in a region or vintage before reaching qualitative conclusions.'
e) Is Jay Miller aware of the tariff set out by Asevin? If he is aware of this tariff when did he learn of its existence?
f) If bodegas have to pay to have their wines tasted by Jay Miller, irrespective of who receives the money, is this not in breach of the Parker code as payment inevitably creates a 'sub-segment category' and he will not have 'access to all wines'.
g) Assuming that Jay Miller is now aware of these charges, will he inform Murcia that he will not be able to visit the wineries if they are expected to pay for submitting samples and for visits?
h) Jay Miller is reported to have received $15,000 for the master class he gave during his visit to Navarra. Is he also receiving an equivalent fee for the master class to be given in Murcia?
i) If Pancho Campo is involved in this visit of Jay Miller to Murcia what exactly is his role? A significant part of Pancho Campo's business is promoting Spanish wine companies and regions. Nothing wrong in that but it does call into question how Jay Miller can guard the 'independence' demanded by Robert Parker if he is closely associated with Pancho Campo. Spanish companies or regions may be tempted to put PR business Campo's way because rightly or wrong they believe he has influence over Miller.
j) In July the Mercados de Vino reported that Pancho Campo MW had charged Navarra around 100,000€ to bring Jay Miller to the region. Jim's Loire covered this here. Was this story correct or was it the region rather than Campo who charged its members? Was Miller's reported $15,000 lecture fee part of the 100,000€ cost of the visit or in addition?
k) Was there in Navarra a tariff similar to that for Murcia for submitting samples and visits?
I hope that some detailed answers will be forthcoming to the serious questions raised by this email from Juan Antonio Ruiz Jiménez.