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

Monday, 12 December 2011

Pancho Campo MW: Spain finds its powerful voice

Pancho Campo MW: cover up statement by Wine Academy based@Watergate unravels

Over the weekend powerful testimony against Pancho Campo, The Wine Academy and their business practices have come out of Spain. At the same time the cover up (sorry - long awaited statement) by Campo and the Wine Academy (posted 9th December 2011) has unravelled. The cover up may well proved to be as lethal as the smokin' gun email Campo sent (3rd June 2011) from Tuscany offering a cut price deal on Jay Miller.    

Yesterday published here a powerful and damning account by Antonio Casado covering his time when employed by Campo and The Wine Academy of Spain. Casado details the shambles of the wine education course peddled by The Wine Academy in the United States in 2009. Originally the courses should have been delivered by Campo himself but the Interpol notice put paid to that as he became confined to Spain. Campo's absence was put down to ill health, so Casado and Esteban Cabezas, then Campo's right hand man at The Spanish Wine Academy were drafted in. Later in 2009 it was Cabezas who took Campo's place and presented a tasting at The Second European Wine Bloggers Conference in Lisbon. An appearance in Portugal might have led to Campo's arrest and deportation to Dubai to serve his one year sentence for fleecing his business partner – Jackie Wartanian. Casado reveals that Cabezas, who subsequently left The Wine Academy of Spain, is alleged to be owed over €30,000 by Campo.

Casado gives a rather sad account of a lengthy interview and meeting with Jay Miller in the United States in 2007. Although good company in the restaurant where they enjoyed an extended meal, he becomes sad and melancholic when he invites Casado back to his home. Miller's wife had died a few years before and he is portaryed as obviously and understandably lonely.

Did Campo later exploit Miller's loneliness – gaining his trust, so Miller failed to ask the pertinent question once this pay-for-access scandal started? If so, there are distinct and uncomfortable echoes with the way I have seen con-men flogging wine investments befriend the old and vulnerable.

Campo claims that it was Robert Parker who asked Campo to arrange Miller's Spanish visits:

'1) Following Winefuture Rioja 2009, Robert Parker informed The Wine Academy of Spain (TWAS) that having witnessed the development of the Spanish wine industry, he had decided to ask Jay Miller to visit Spain several times a year.

2. Robert Parker requested from TWAS to assist Jay Miller in coordinating his trips in areas such as hotel bookings, local transportation, and especially in matters of translation and interpretation.' 

If this is true (and remember this is a Campo claim), then one has to wonder why Parker was prepared to entrust Jay Miller as well his reputation and that of The Wine Advocate to an escaped felon?

Ignorance is not a defence – WineFuture Rioja was held on 12th and 13th November 2009 – several months after Adam Lechmere and I broke the news on (4th September 2009) that Campo MW was on the Interpol wanted list. Indeed Jim's Loire asked a direct question of the WF participants on 28th October 2009

Despite this many of the great and the good of the wine industry attended WineFuture Rioja. Would this event ever taken place if Campo's conviction had not been handed down in an Arab country? I rather doubt it. At the time issues were raised about Dubai's human rights record. Yet Campo had chosen to live in Dubai from 1997 to 2003, when he fled, and his parents in law still live there.    


15th December 2011
Jay Miller has responded to Antonio Casado's article in El Mundo del Vino here. The English version is now on Wine Business International here.



Hervé LALAU said...

For those who read French

Knowing Antonio, his career at Penins's and tasting abilities, I cannot but find his revelations most intriguing

Jim's Loire said...

Merci Hervé.