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

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Campogate: Valencia: the last gig – 3 days for €35,000

Pancho Campo MW and Jay Miller (

Two emails lay out in fine detail the arrangements Pancho Campo mapped out for Jay Miller's three-day visit to eastern DO Valencia on 28th-30th November at an eye-watering cost of €35,000 ($46,760). As in the case of Murcia, it is clear that lecture and masterclass are closely intertwined with Miller assessing wines for The Wine Advocate. The tone and content of the first email convey to the reader a good impression of what Valencia's administrative authorities thought they were dealing with: access to Miller.

The author of the emails is Pamela Beltrán of the communications department of DO Valencia.

The program combined a tasting of 80 wines to be rated for the magazine The Wine Advocate on Tuesday 29th November with visits to wineries and a lecture/masterclass a day later. Among bodegas visited were Celler del Roure, Bodegas Vicente Gandía, Hoya de Cadenas, Cheste Agraria and Bodegas Murviedro. Of these, however, Bodegas Murviedro and Bodegas Vicente Gandía are actually in another wine region, DO Utiel-Requena.

The two and half hours lecture and masterclass once again appear to be inextricably linked with Miller's official capacity as reviewer for The Wine Advocate. 

Although there is no suggestion that Miller charged to visit wineries and to taste wines for The Wine Advocate, Campo appears to have constructed a conduit in the masterclasses/seminars to relay some of his management fee to Miller – assuming that Miller was paid a fee for the masterclass.

There is, of course, nothing wrong in Miller being paid for giving a masterclass. However under Campo’s management each of the masterclasses given appears to be a fig leaf for charging regions for Miller’s presence. I doubt if Robert Parker or other members of Team Parker, or indeed any wine writer of world repute, would countenance a paid masterclass to coincide with a visit to taste a region’s wines for The Wine Advocate or any other publication with a reputation of spotless impartiality and objectivity to maintain.

The producers of Valencia, like those in Murcia, were yearning for the magic of Parker points to unlock the US market, or assist further penetration, during tough times. To think that they would have been prepared to shell out €35,000 just to listen to a few comments from Miller, and Campo’s marketing pearls of wisdom, is laughable. No amount of post-debacle scurrying around by Campo to gather post-dated 'documentary' evidence from DO Presidents on embossed paper is going to undermine that obvious truth. It’s the emails sent at the time that matter, not Campo’s bluster and shifting explanations. 

Original email:


Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 14:05:50 +0100
From: Pamela Beltrán <>

Dear friends,

As reported, we can confirm Jay Miller's visit to Valencia, which will take place on the 28, 29 and 30 of November. During his three-day he will accompanied by Pancho Campo (president of The Wine Academy, the company currently responsible for organizing and coordinating the visit). Miller is planning a wine tasting of each of the three D.O.s of Region for The Wine Advocate, the magazine run by Robert Parker. The details of this tasting are specified below.

Furthermore, so that Jay Miller may get to know our wines in more detail, we have organized a specific event with DOP Valencia wines:

A MasterClass Tasting conference organized by the Regulatory Council and the staff of The Wine Academy, led by Jay Miller and Pancho Campo, aimed at professionals, distribution and catering, and the media.

During the tasting, which will take place on November 30 in the afternoon, we will sample a total of 18 wines.

At this meeting with winemakers and industry professionals in the form of a seminar an explanation will be given as to how the American and Asian markets function, and how Robert Parker's guide works.

The event is due to take place at the Hotel Las Arenas, which has given us one of its rooms for this tasting, and where Jay Miller will stay with his team.

Upon completion of these activities there will be a small aperitif cocktail party to enable professionals from Valencia to meet personally with Jay Miller and Pancho Campo.

As reported, the costs of the action amounts to 35,000 Euros, and the wineries that have confirmed their participation must contribute 500 Euros each, amount to be entered in the account no. 0065/0119/11/00010••••• before November 10. (receipt will confirm participation in the MasterClass).

This same action has recently been operated at D.O. Navarra and at FENAVIN. And The Wine Academy of Spain has confirmed to us that the impact of those visits, the tastings and the conferences was spectacular.

DOP Valencia is developing a specific invitation to the act, and will send it to all participating wineries so that each may invite 10 people per winery. You can thus invite the caterers and trade professionals whom interest you most (it will be essential to carry this invitation to access the event, and you will have to confirm in advance the names of the guests from each of the wineries).

Also we will be making a strong call to the press, so it may report the event so that we may have the maximum number of media that will echo this action.

We can inform you that we are in contact with various media so they may give maximum coverage to this issue during Jay Miller's stay in Valencia.

The Wine Academy has committed to disseminate this event through a comprehensive report on the region for the Internet TV channel (in English and Spanish) that occurs at Winefuture (

Also, Pancho Campo will give a lengthy report of our wines in the newspaper El Economista where he has a column.

Below we detail the program of activities as foreseen by The Wine Academy for the three-day visit of Miller, including details for each of the tastings:


Monday, November 28th - TBC

    · 16.30 - 19.00 - Visit to a Winery

    · 20.30 - 22.30 - Dinner with wineries and representatives from the DOP Valencia in one of Valencia's flagship restaurants (location to be determined). A representative of each of the wineries to be present at the MasterClass will participate)

Tuesday, November 29 - VALENCIA

    · 09.00 - 13.00 - Tasting of 80 wines from DOP Valencia for the magazine The Wine Advocate to be held at the D.O.'s offices).

    · 13.30 - 16.30 - Visit and lunch at a winery

Wednesday, November 30 - VALENCIA
    · 12.30 - 16.00 - Visit and lunch at a winery

    · 18.30 - 21.00 - Lecture and MasterClass (18 wines to tasted. Tasting speed at approximately 20 wines per hour). Hotel Balneario Las Arenas.

Finally, we detail the requirements for the wine tastings:


For this tasting we request you send up to four different references (2 bottles of each entry) before November 18, the offices of DOP Valencia (C / Quasrt, 22 - 46001 Valencia), indicating the following Reference:



A maximum of 80 wines will be tasted by Jay Miller to be rated according to the rules of The Wine Advocate, namely:

1. Only wines with a US importer can take part.

2. Only wines or vintages that The Wine Advocate has not rated yet will be included.

3. Barrel or tank samples will not be rated.

4. The wines will be tasted at our facility or at some other venue.

5. The collection and selection of wines will be carried out by ourselves based on the criteria dictated by Robert Parker and The Wine Advocate.


We need 30 bottles of each wine. These wines should be sent before November 18, to the D.O.'s headquarters (C / Quart, 22 - 46001 Valencia), indicating the following reference:



I remain at your disposal for any questions you may have.


Pamela Beltrán

CRDO Valencia

Later hurry-up and pay email from Valencia 

Subject: Masterclass payment pending
Date: Mon, November 21, 2011 14:33:26 +0100
From: Pamela Beltran <>
To: <>

Dear friend:

Hereby we advise you that your payment of 500 Euros for your winery's participation in the Jay Miller Masterclass of 30th November is still outstanding.


Pamela Beltrán

CRDO Valencia

Department of Communication

96 391 00 96 / 617 34 42 14

Many witnesses have commented on how Miller looked tired and off color during Campo's lecture in Valencia, and TV footage shows the American critic excusing himself to go away during part of it. Miller was also laconic during the masterclass he conducted. This is not surprising. Early the same day Campo had arranged another major tasting appointment for him which is not reflected in DO Valencia's email. Pancho Campo's marketing speech can be viewed here – a previous post on Jim's Loire. It comes over as a lengthy application for a new post – El Supremo of Spanish wine.

The press release issued by DO Utiel-Requena is self-explanatory:

Jay Miller tastes wines from DOP Utiel-Requena


'The wine critic Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate's representative to taste Spanish wines, yesterday morning attended a tasting of wines from the Denomination of Protected Origin Utiel-Requena.

The Consejo Regulador's technical team coordinated this tasting. Jay Miller was very receptive, methodical and professional. In this sense, the results and comments of the samples tasted yesterday will be made known by Robert Parker's prestigious publication, The Wine Advocate, within six months, according to sources within that organization.

Jay Miller took away a good impression of the wines made with our region's native grape variety, Bobal. In his statements to the press he highlighted the excellent winemaking in this area and the good retail prices, which make these products optimal for sale in the U.S. market.'

(Once again this is a joint effort with Harold Heckle, a long established wine writer based in Madrid. Any errors are mine.)


rikiwigley said...

The link to Vino-Valencia posted in your article is incorrect. I wish to make it absolutely clear Vino-Valencia has had no contact with Pancho Campo or Jay Miller, has made no payments to either of them or any other organisation in respect of wine events we organise nor have either they or any organisation associated with them made payments to us. Pamela Beltran is not an employee of Vino-Valencia.

Nothing to do with us guv! An apology please.

Jim's Loire said... – my apologies.The link should be:

This has been amended and I regret any inconvenience caused.


Alcabalista said...

Just a couple of comment...
Both Bodegas Murviedro and Bodegas Vicente Gandía produce wines not only under the coverage of D.O. Utiel-Requena but also under the coverage of D.O. Valencia.
In addition, just to comment that the stated circumstances do not include any illegal act... In any case we could discuss if there is an ethically wrong behaviour ...

Jim's Loire said...

Paco. Thank you.

On a number of occasions Pancho Campo has made it clear that he knows the ethical standards Robert Parker sets down for himself and his team.

The arrangements here are considerably at variance with those standards bearing in mind that Jay Miller was there principally to taste the wines of Valencia and so most of the expenses would have been borne by The Wine Advocate.

rikiwigley said...

Apology accepted, easy mistake to make. Riki

Jim's Loire said...

Riki. Thank you – entirely my mistake.

Hervé Lalau said...

In the Baltimore Sun, Jay Miller says he doesn't know if Campo attempted to bribe any wineries. "That's the 64,000 dollar question," he says. "But in the end, only he knows."

I'm just coming back from Catalonia where I spoke with producers and merchants of this topic. The general feeling about Miller is that he is honest. The general feeling about Campo is that he is an capable, but hard selling businessman.

Jim's Loire said...

Hervé. I'm sure your impression is right – Campo is a hard selling businessman. Whether in this case he was properly entitled to be selling access to Miller is a crucial question.