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

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

Saturday, 10 December 2011

#Campogate: inept handling of Miller's departure and the question of public money

Pancho Campo, Jay Miller and The Wine Academy of Spain: happier days

Robert Parker's handling of Jay Miller's departure has been remarkably inept. Faced with headlines in The Baltimore Sun like 'Paid to sip? Wine scandal swirls around Baltimore critic' (The Baltimore Sun – Jay's local paper) Miller would have a right to feel that his long standing friend has dropped him squarely in it and with good reason to feel sore.

No doubt Parker would say that he had told his team on 4th November that Miller's departure would be announced on 5th December. Given the rising evidence last week of scandal surrounding Campo's organisation of Miller's agenda and his visits in Spain culminating in criticism of the 'Miller Circus' by José Penin, Spain leading wine writer last Saturday, a few minutes reflection would surely have shown Parker how the news of Miller's departure would be interpreted. Delaying the announcement of Miller's departure for a few weeks, would have avoided the public relations disaster which has duly arrived.

The Baltimore Sun says that Parker has launched an investigation quoting him as saying: "We're being damaged by these allegations and are trying to get to the bottom of what the truth is." There have been no details of how this investigation is being carried out, what is brief is and when it will be concluded. Certainly neither Harold Heckle nor I have been contacted. Nor for that matter have I been contacted by Pancho's lawyers.         


One aspect of this scandal that has yet to be explored is whether public money was used to pay Campo, The Wine Academy of Spain and Miller's substantial lecturing fees. There is a brief comment on the Verema site:

'A mi, como consumidor, poco me importa. Mientras las bodegas quieran pagar, allá ellas. Ahora, si se emplea dinero público para montar circos, entiendo que algunos se enfaden.'

'To me, as a consumer, I do not care. If the wineries want to pay, that’s up to them. Now, if public money is used to mount circuses, I can understand that some are angry.'

People might well be angry if public money was paid out in the expectation that Miller would be scoring wines for The Wine Advocate and if his imminent and planned departure was deliberately concealed from DOs like Murcia and Valencia. Had they known that Miller was about to leave would they have been so keen to fund his 'free-lance speaking engagements' to the tune of €29,000 and €35,000?  

The Spanish DOs are in part funded by their producers and in part by Government money. Spanish tax payers may not be best pleased to discover that Campo has been charging DOs substantial money for access to Jay Miller. The Wine Academy of Spain (The Wine Academy LLC) is registered at Flat 14 W, Watergate One, 1111 Gulfstream Avenue, Sarasota, Florida 342336, USA. What, then, is the tax regime for The Wine Academy of Spain (The Wine Academy LLC)?   


Mike Steinberger (Wine Diarist) raises further questions over Miller's departure here.     

1 comment:

Hervé Lalau said...

And the answer is YES