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

Friday, 2 December 2011

Some reflections on DO Madrid and Campo's €40,000

Pancho Campo, Jay Miller and some of the staff of the Wine Academy of Spain

Robert Parker concluded his rather sad and disappointing statement (see earlier post), which was posted on his website last night thus: "Until we are 100% certain of all the facts, I think this subject, which appears to be a reckless and malicious disregard for the truth and clearly aimed at damaging Miller, Campo, and TWA, needs to be closed."

Far from 'closing this subject' Parker has fanned the flames. Jim's Loire has had over 6000 visits over the past two days with over 3,600 today alone. (Jim's Loire has a sitemeter in the right hand column with information open to all.) I have also received many supportive comments.

'This blogger' is a wine journalist who has written for many magazines including Decanter since 1989 and, from time to time, newspapers including the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Independent. I have been a member of the Circle of Wine Writers for over 20 years and edited its journal, Circle Update, since 1991. I have been a blogger since August 2008 and am proud to be a member of the Internet communications community.

I have no interest whatsoever in attacking Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate or Robert Parker. Ever since this story broke Campo has sought for very obvious reasons to portray legitimate reporting on his activities as an attack on Jay Miller, Robert Parker and The Wine Advocate. Although questions can reasonably asked of Miller and Parker as to how the practices as shown in the 3rd June 2011 emails from Campo and Adela Richer could have been allowed, I have no wish to tarnish their reputations nor The Wine Advocate, based after all on the principles of Ralph Nader.

I find it extraordinary that Campo, who was convicted and sentenced** for fleecing his business partner in Dubai, has now been put in a position to fleece the Spanish wine industry and trash the reputations of Jay Miller, Robert Parker and The Wine Advocate. Was this really what Parker intended when Campo was given responsibility to manage Miller's agenda and visits in Spain? I very much doubt it. If Parker is looking for someone to sue for damaging his reputation, he needs look no further than the author of the '€40,000' email sent from Tuscany on 3rd June 2011.

Very insightful comment by a José Maria from Rioja on Oliver Styles's blog captures perfectly the concerns raised by allowing Campo to be Miller’s well-paid gatekeeper, while emphasising that this controversy is not another example of 'Parker bashing' .

Pay attention to what is going on in Spain now. This is not “Another Parker-bashing article”. Nothing against Parker. Nothing against him or Jay Miller being paid for speaking, teaching… The wine industry in Spain is happy to have TWA, Parker, Miller and any other wine critic in our country, taste our wines, have fun and write about all of it back home to their readers. They are all welcome!!!

What I don’t understand, as well as many others in Spain is why Parker hired Pancho Campo to set up Miller´s agenda. We are astonished!!! Does Parker know what is going on here in Spain? I seriously doubt he would approve how Pancho Campo is using Jay Miller´s visits to Spain in his own benefit.

It is not the Master classes that Pancho´s business organized in Jumilla, Navarra, La Mancha, and next week in Madrid with the Cooperatives using Jay Miller, and making lots of money. It is that if you DONT pay Pancho´s business Miller doesn’t show up, like in Madrid DO. It is about all the visits organized to wineries which did not deserve a ‘in person’ visit by the famous critic but as they sponsor and pay Pancho´s business they get privileged access to Miller.*

There are dozens of examples but in our region we all know about Campo Viejo, or the Araex Grupo wineries, all big Pancho´s sponsors.

It is not against Parker or TWA, it is about how a character like Pancho Campo are using this deal to his own profit. I hope Mr Parker is aware what has been going on in Spain during the last year as soon as possible. TWA, Parker, Jay Miller, James Suckling, Bettane, Jancis Robinson all are welcome to Spain (and Rioja!) but please organize the agenda in your own, or ICEX, or any other organism but not through Pancho Campo´s business.

Again, nothing against Parker!

Have a good weekend. Chema

Furthermore the detailed points raised on the El Mundo forum ( by Andres Arevalo 10 days ago remain unanswered.

*: I assume that as part of their investigations Parker's swarm of lawyers will have been instructed to look into any convergence between Campo's business interests and the regions and the wineries that Miller visits using the following as a guiding principle:

'We would never permit a winery to pay us for the privilege of tasting their wine or visiting the winery. Moreover, Campo also understands his organization cannot charge wineries for Miller's visits. Both of them have full knowledge that is an appalling conflict of interest that would not be tolerated under any circumstance.'
Robert Parker: 30.11.2011

**: Trial in Dubai June 2003
I gather that Campo has claimed that 'he had no legal representation at the trial'. Technically this is probably correct as the future MW had scarpered before the trial. It is believed that Campo paid to be smuggled out of the country probably on a boat and then headed to Spain. He left behind his Chilean passport, which he had surrendered to the court in June 2002 when he was charged. Campo was sentenced to a year's imprisonment to be followed by deportation. Despite being removed in 2010 from the Interpol wanted list, the sentence is understood to still stand. For those who point out Dubai's human rights record, should be aware that Campo's parents-in-law continue to live in Dubai.


The last minute decision on Tuesday (29th November) that Jay Miller would be able to taste wines of DO Vinos de Madrid yesterday (1st December) shows that Spanish regions, who refuse to bow to Campo's outrageous financial demands, can have their wines rated without charge by Miller if the media spotlight is bright enough. The Spanish press has a big role to play here.

It isn't, however, just the local press but the international wine press who can hold Campo to account. By attending WineFuture Rioja in 2009, when Campo was wanted on Interpol, participants immeasurably strengthened his Spanish power base. Those, who in 2009 cashed Campo's cheques, have a very clear responsibility to ensure that he does not now screw the Spanish wine industry, especially at this time of crisis.


Anonymous said...

The plot sickens. Hopefully the heat will stay on high flame and Parker will address this rather than deflecting it and assigning blame where it doesn't belong rather than where it does. Great work here.

Unknown said...

Although I agree that, in a sense, Parker and Co have probably done some good to wine by creating interest, and I will not dispute his credit as a taster (even if my own tastes happen quite often to be somewhat different), I have to say at this stage "who cares about Parker's reputation anyway?". His influence has lasted for too long and is clearly on the wane.
The main problem here, as Jim rightly points out, is with the dishonest activities of someone like Campo, who is using Parker and this other guy Miller as references and cash machines. And so the response that I am waiting for on this unplesant affair is that from the Institute of Masters of Wine, who, by doing nothing, implicitly condone Campo's activities. MW's have to sign a code of conduct agreement as soon as they get their pass, and before they become officially members of the institute. When are the committee of this body going to say something here?

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks David. I would prefer to leave the Institute of Masters of Wine to comment. You are not, however, the first to have raised this question over the last couple of days.

I understand that while Pancho Campo MW was on the Interpol list (2009-2010) he was asked to stand down as an MW while the matter was investigated. He refused.

Anonymous said...

Campo seems to be permanently surrounded by controversy. Despite this, all the big wine names (show their support and take part in his Wine Future events as speakers, both in Rioja and recently in Hong Kong. Do they suddenly care less about their cooperation which murky Campo on the face of a big fat cheque?

Justin Roberts said...

Jim, have you asked the IMW for comment? I'd love to know what their line is on all of this...

Jim's Loire said...

Justin. Thanks. No I haven't but I do know that senior MWs are aware of what Harold and I have posted.

Anonymous said...

I once read that the title of MW is owned by the Institute and so can be revoked. Pancho Campo would surely be entitled to a fair hearing first.

Anonymous said...

Campo will be entitled to an investigation and a hearing. Many MWs are extremely concerned about this issue, but cannot speak for the Institute, which itself must be careful not to act rashly and make itself liable.

Luc Charlier said...

Jim, who am I ?
Still, your attitude is an example to all of us (both with and here). I admire your guts, courage and nerve.
I’m not sure there’s a lot poor me can do to prove this, but if this would be the case, let us know. 100 % support! Maybe our writing may foster your case ?
Last remark: there’s on my behalf no despising of MW’s as such but, outside British circles, nobody cares much about MW as a title. Some are outstanding, and would be anyway without this qualification. Some are preposterous in spite of this qualification.
Knowing all the details about the last date of picking in Marlborough County doesn’t make you a wine expert, nor the last mistresses’ name of a Maipo Valley Tycoon !
For those wondering : I’m NO bloody Frenchie, in spite of my broken English! And I will take any competition with any MW you care to choose, as far as blind tasting, erudition and wine technique is concerned, let alone chemistry. The only thing that will let me lagging behind is ... licking the arse of well known Bordeaux estate-owners ! I suppose well-educated Brits would prefer the formulation "flattering" estate owners to my trivial expression. I grant them the option.
Hence, whether your Campo guy has got to resign from MW or not is totally irrelevant. He’s a cheat. Full stop.

Jim's Loire said...

Luc. Thanks for your support. I agree best to leave the IMW to run their own internal affairs and instead concentrate on looking at Campo's activities based on documents coming from an increasing number of leaks within the Spanish wine industry.

Anonymous said...

Leaks often lead to floods.

Anonymous said...


Very well done.
Please keep at this until we have resolution. That is, until we know what role everyone played here.

Parker's "my lawyers told me to avoid discussing this" defense is probably legitimate. But it is also the line that would be adopted by someone hoping to stonewall until the storm passes.

The Wine Advocate's ethical judgements have been suspect for quite some time.
Glad to see that someone is addressing the problem in a serious, committed fashion.

Wine Gift Membership said...

I also have to say that the heat will stay on high flame and Parker will address this rather than deflecting it Great work here.

Lisa Shara Hall said...

Great reporting Jim. You are doing a great service to industry.