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 investdrinks.org

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, 30 November 2011

Campogate: No Pay – No Jay

Adela Richer (left), Pancho Campo and Jay Miller (seated), Paulina Campo (back row, second left), Rony Bacqué (general manager of The Wine Academy of Spain) standing

(I’m greatly indebted to Harold Heckle, long established wine writer based in Madrid, for shedding further light on the non-visit to DO Vinos de Madrid. In particular it was his persistence that obtained copies of the explosive emails that form the basis of this co-authored post.)

Pancho Campo MW offered D.O. Vinos de Madrid what he called a cut-price deal of €20,000 for a two-day visit to the region by Jay Miller in July 2011. His special offer would have delivered Miller to the DO on 11th-12th July as the American wine writer and Campo returned from a tasting trip to Navarra. However, the small region set around Spain's capital city was so taken aback by the cost that it turned down the offer. In a bid to coax the deal to go through, Campo told Madrid such a short-notice visit ‘off the set agenda’ would normally cost more than €40,000, but that by a ‘miracle’ he had managed to persuade Miller ‘to stay 2 days more, and for half the usual price’. 

The two tasters had been set to drive southwest from Navarra, a region that has for decades strived to emulate the success of neighbouring Rioja. It is reported that Navarra shelled out €100,000 for its visit, with Miller collecting a $15,000 fee for a single master class there.

In an email sent via his iPhone from Tuscany at 15.30 on Friday 3rd June to Adela Richer, commercial director of The Wine Academy of Spain and copied to Irene Llorente of Aprovin and Elena Arribas of D.O. Vinos de Madrid, Campo pressured them to close the deal:

‘Asunto: Re: CATA VINOS DE MADTRID POR JAY MILLER, CONFERENCIA, VISITA A BODEGAS Y CATA DE 8 VINOS ENTRE PANCHO CAMPO MW Y JAY MILLER

Dear Adela,

This is a unique opportunity for vinos de Madrid, seeing as how this DO is not in Parker's plans to be visited in either 2012 or 2013.

Private visits off the set agenda, as this would be, rarely take place, and not for a price below 40,000 euros. The fact that Jay has agreed to stay 2 days more, and for half the usual price, is a miracle and an opportunity that Madrid will find it difficult to have again.

We close our diary next Wednesday. I hope they reconsider, especially considering how difficult the market is for Spain and that any little push like this can help a lot.

A kiss from Tuscany.

Pancho’

The visit proposal, as Richer outlined in an earlier email on 3rd June to Llorente (Aprovin is an organization that provides for Madrid the equivalent of what Asevin does for Murcia) and Arribas, press representative for D.O. Vinos de Madrid, was as follows:

'Dear Irene and Elena,

After talking with Pancho and analyzing your proposition, and since he feels great affection, he wants to cooperate with you, he proposes this:
     
It would have to be just after Navarra and would last two days (July 11 and 12)

1. Visit to 3 or 4 wineries

2. Tasting and press conference as at Fenavin. They would only taste around 8 wines.

3. Tasting of wines that have a U.S. importer and which Jay has not previously scored. (A prerequisite for their appearance in the publication)

 4, The wineries have to organize everything, tasting venue, invitations, tasting glasses, etc.

5. If they can't comply with all this, then Jay won't be able to do it until well into 2012

Cost € 20,000 plus VAT,  

I think that it is well worth your effort, and seeing as how we are doing a tasting with Miller in Madrid ... Let's make it a big one.

Invite the whole sector, buyers, distributors, specialist stores, VIP consumers ... they love big tastings and on top of it, these two will involve the winemakers in the wine tasting ...

Let me know, I'm using all my influence with Pancho, let's see if the winemakers know how to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

I need to know something by Wednesday ... Miller has many commitments and proposals from all around the world, and we cannot block-book his diary more than 4 days.’

A kiss to the two of you

Adela'

*

Richer was offering those Madrid bodegas that have American importers a chance to have their wines judged and rated by Miller, with the results to be published in The Wine Advocate.  Thus, it seems clear that the impression being given was that this was to have been an official visit by Miller.

Llorente was not entirely bowled over by The Wine Academy of Spain's proposition. There are not many wineries in up-and-coming D.O. Vinos de Madrid that export to the USA, and even a cut-price deal of €23,600 struck her as expensive, particularly in these straitened times. Also some wines from the region have, thanks to their importer, already been assessed by Parker and are on sale in Madrid with labels announcing their Parker points. Llorente also pointed out that The Wine Academy of Spain’s proposal was not properly budgeted. Hence her rather guarded response late morning on 3rd June: 

Dear Adele:

Thanks for dealing with the consultation I threw your way over the phone yesterday so quickly.

As I mentioned to you today as well, it all depends on the participation of wineries that export to the U.S. market, roughly 8 or 9 wineries from DO Vinos de Madrid. In turn, it also depends on whether PromoMadrid can approve such a budget, as they always help us when it comes to trying to internationalize the wineries of Madrid.

And regarding the budget that you have sent, I ask you to insert it into a proper document and that you break it down by concepts to show how you arrive at such a figure. I have to make a formal proposal to PromoMadrid and I cannot present it like this, in the rough. I'd appreciate it.

For my part, I am sending this now to exporting wineries to seek their answer as soon as possible, to meet your requirements for them to present their wines to Jay Miller.

*

Mid-afternoon the same day Richer made a further attempt to persuade Llorente of the benefits of paying for a visit from Miller before Campo turned the screw at 15.30 (see above). 

‘Dear Irene, those of us who still have jobs, we must work well, like this!

Look, the comment you've made, that it may be too hasty, and that the July date may not be good, I think that for any winemaker who is interested in sticking his head in the American market, and to have the opportunity to share a day with Miller and Pancho, dates should not matter. If they're on vacation, all they'd have to do is come up to Madrid for one day and enjoy a nice and constructive tasting, a Conference-Colloquium given by two people who are tremendously influential in the sector nationally and internationally

It's a great opportunity that we're providing them with, and that, given the circumstances, they can benefit from. They can talk to Miller and Pancho, discuss their concerns, have them guide producers on how best to aim their wines, what taste trends are and how best to look for an importer ...

And, you know, the bus passes only once. In 2012 things could change and it could be that we may not even be able to taste Madrid wines.

I am convinced that this timing will be interesting for Jeromin, Valverde, Benito, Qbel (sic), La bodega del Presidente, Castejón, Tagonius and some others I leave off this list ... at least I consider them all good entrepreneurs.

July is a busy month, and also with the crisis on us even August would be a good month in which to host this tasting, don't you think?

Well, you've got the opportunity...

I hope you know how to take advantage of it

a hug and thanks for thinking of us

Adela Richer

Commercial Director The Wine Academy


*

Despite Campo’s cut-price deal and ‘the miracle’ that Jay had agreed to stay two days more, and for 'half the usual price,' DO Vinos de Madrid turned down the offer. We understand that considerably less than half of the bodegas expressed any interest. The result: No pay – no Jay.

Campo has claimed that it was DO Madrid who contacted The Wine Academy of Spain, and has given several reasons why the Madrid visit didn’t go ahead.

To Adam Lechmere (Decanter): It was DO Vinos de Madrid who approached The Wine Academy of Spain with a request to organise a visit by Jay Miller. The visit did not go ahead due to a lack of time to organise this visit and that Vinos de Madrid could not afford the management fee. Campo told Lechmere that he is not apologetic about the cost of his management fees, which he described as “the going rate”.

Campo told Lechmere that: “absolutely no money ever changes hands between him and the consejo”. Madrid got in touch with him asking for a Wine Academy event. They could not afford it, nor could it be put together in their timeframe, so the idea was dropped. They wanted a tasting for 200 people, he said the cost would be €20k. Furthermore “no money changes hands for Jay Miller visits but it does for seminars”.

Elsewhere he has claimed that Vinos de Madrid ‘wanted to pay’ for Jay to go and visit wineries and review their wines for The Wine Advocate. Feigning shock, he said this was unacceptable, and he declined the approach.

**

The series of emails, which read on occasions like a scene out of The Godfather, show starkly that Campo has evidently sought to profit from his position organising Jay Miller’s visits as reviewer of Spanish wines for The Wine Advocate. He has indeed become Jay Miller’s gatekeeper, and charged the struggling Spanish wine industry hefty chunks of their total annual budgets – ‘the going rate’ – for access to Miller. Doubtless Don Corleone also had a ‘going rate’. 

The emails highlight the pressure being brought to bear on Vinos de Madrid – ‘unique opportunity’, ‘And, you know, the bus passes only once‘, “Well, you've got the opportunity”, “I hope they reconsider” – all familiar boiler room tactics, but by email.

Furthermore, the correspondence makes it clear that Campo has lied regularly over how Miller’s trips are really organised. Campo has lied not only to people asking awkward questions, but also to some of his staunchest supporters – people who have risked their reputations going out on a limb for him. Back in September 2009 he lied to his proponents over events in Dubai, and clearly he sees no reason to stop now. 

Looking at the proposal sent by Richer, it is evident that Campo’s only role in the mooted visit by Miller was to ensure that the illustrious American critic turned up. “The wineries have to organize everything, tasting venue, invitations, tasting glasses, etc.” and if you don’t agree to this, tough, because you won’t see Miller for many a month: it's €20,000 + VAT (€23,600) for access!


Late news flash
Suddenly late Tuesday afternoon (29.11.11) Madrid bodegas were contacted by Vinos de Madrid asking them to send two bottles of each of their wines to the DO for Miller to taste their wines this Thursday 1st December, at no apparent charge! That day Miller and Campo are scheduled to give a 45-minute speaking engagement at the presentation of wines from Spanish cooperatives selected for El Arte de Beber (the art of imbibing).

Why this sudden volte face when Campo had recently said that Miller had no plans to visit or taste Vinos de Madrid until 2014?

Is it just coincidental that yesterday morning I emailed Campo (with no response as of 14.20, 30.11.11) telling him that I would shortly be posting on Jim’s Loire further details of how the Wine Academy of Spain had approached Vinos de Madrid with its proposal that would have included a number of visits to bodegas along with a masterclass and seminar? Judge for yourself.

Pancho Campo MW and Jay Miller (interempresas.net)

See here a response and legal threats by Robert Parker posted on his website late Wednesday evening (GMT). 

36 comments:

David Cobbold said...

Good job Jim! These people discredit all wine critics by their dishonest and pretentious behaviour.

Hervé LALAU said...

Ditto.

Jim Budd said...

Thank you Gentlemen. Due credit must be given to Harold Heckle who worked with me and obtained the emails.

Hope this will help to show Robert Parker what has been going on in Spain and assist the Spanish wine industry cutting loose from Campo.

Daniel said...

20000 euros goes to Pancho...normal visits are 40000. Miller gets about 10000 to speak at these places. Does Pancho keep the rest or does a large chunk go to RP to participate in Wine Future?

Jim,

Nice journalistic work.

I am sure you will be hearing from lawyers in Monkton and Spain, telling you that those emails for written by a chimp and not Pancho or anyone at the wine academy.

Anonymous said...

Great work Jim. Do you know of any other prominent critic who has a handler to teach him about the various regions he's supposed to be covering? The WA has zero credibility when it comes to Spain nowadays. Tragic way to destroy what was a great and credible brand. I don't think Jay himself is dishonest. Just lazy as hell with no sense of propriety.

And as for the lawyers, should that situation ever arise, publicize that communication too.

Jim Budd said...

Daniel. Thank you. I don't know the details of how WineFuture HK was funded but in respect to WineFuture Rioja Campo received a large sum from Rioja.

Anon. I know of no other prominent wine critic who has a handler. Of course they are likely to go on individual trips organised by a PR company or an organisation. It would, however, be unthinkable that a critic like Jancis Robinson MW or Tim Atkin MW for example to have all of their wine travels organised by one PR company.

I agree I feel very sorry for the good and decent hardworking and talented writers in Team Parker whose reputations may be tarnished by what is going on in Spain.

Anonymous said...

Jim,

I have been traveling the wine roads of Spain for forty years and only on a few occasions have I even had a consejo regulador arrange a visit. The President of the Consello Regulador of the once unknown Ribeira Sacra denomination is a close personal friend and he will help me with appointments and in finding some of the isolated wineries in this stunning, very rural region.

My love for La Ribeira Sacra (and indeed, Galica, like yours for the Loire Valley) and its wines have brought me back time and again. Sometimes el President invites me to lunch or picks up the tab for my 30 Euro per night road warriors hotel in the provincial town of Monforte de Lemos. But, I have spent a lot of personal dinero just getting there: rental car, gas, tolls, etc. (The wine magazines pay no expenses.) Almost all wine writers get some kind of courtesy from regional promotion agencies in the form of lunch or dinner and sometimes a hotel night, but payments to wine writers for visits? I have never been offered, nor have I solicited, nor have I taken any form of payment for visiting the some 600 wineries I have visited, mostly on my own, in Spain. If the behavior that you and Harold Heckle report about Pancho Campo and Jay Miller (and thus, Robert Parker) are true, I personally find such behavior reprehensible. If indeed, these people have been guilty of these actions, those who suckle from Pancho Campo's money tit may soon be re-thinking their monumental milk moustache!

Jim Budd said...

Thanks anon.

Constantine Stergides said...

It remains to be seen whether Mr Pancho will be the first ever (?) MW to be thrown out of the Institute.

Cato said...

By definition aren't all "wine critics" pretentious and dishonest?

I work in the Napa wine industry. I've seen them all.....

Vincent POUSSON said...

"The Institute’s vision is one of knowledge and integrity."
(http://www.mastersofwine.org/)

Jumillagate, Madridgate… Idon't know exactly the rules about MW ethics & standards but if IMW doesn't react, I think it means it agrees. No?

Anonymous said...

@ CATO: Wow. Pretty broad and defamatory, no? Care to explain and enumerate?

Vincent POUSSON said...

‎"Disturbing to hear abt scandal involving Wine Advocate critics being 'for sale'- going rate €40,000 to visit/taste wine"
Jeannie Cho Lee MW/Twitter

Anonymous said...

Alas, this isn't even close to as bad as BaroloFest. Admitted $50,000 in freebies solicited directly from individual wineries.

Malescoblog said...

wow - this cant be a parker Policy, hope its not like the News of the wrold phone bugging scandal

Anonymous said...

A question and a comment, if you please...

Question (to Jim and others):
Has it been shown to your satisfaction that anyone at the Wine Advocate knew of this pay for play proposal? Campo seems to suggest as much when he talks of "usual fees" and Miller agreeing to stay for "half the usual price". I'm unsure, though, how reliable Campo's word might be, and this could be a case of someone mis-using an association with the WA for personal gain.

Comment:
In my experience handlers are not uncommon. I live and work in a somewhat esoteric wine-growing region/country where fluency in English is not a given.
Over the years I have been approached by a number of foreign-based wine writers asking for advice: where to eat and stay in the area, how far is it from Region A to Region B by train, are the roads navigable by car if you can't read the road signs, what under-the-radar local producers would I recommend, etc. If time permits I often offer to set itineraries, do translation, and drive the visitor around. I ask only that the visiting writer cover my travel and lodging expenses.
Having talked with others in other countries, I know that my experiences are not unique.
While this method is not ideal--people like me act as an unintentional "filter" of info flowing from the producers to the writers--it is often the best way to get a lot of work done in a small amount of time. Of course, profiting from this association is another thing entirely.


Regards,

Jim Budd said...

Anon: 'Has it been shown to your satisfaction that anyone at the Wine Advocate knew of this pay for play proposal?'

Anon: My assumption for the meoment is no. I can't image that Robert Parker has this sort of behaviour in mind when it was arranged that Campo should organise Miller's Spanish diary and visits.

Indeed on the two occasions I have sent questions to Parker (no acknowledgment ever received) I stressed that I was not accusing Miller of taking money for visits or tasting wine.

Pancho's email of 4th June suggests that Miller may be involved in the payment. However, I do not consider Campo to be a credible witness. I have invited Miller to commment on this email and hope that he will take this opportunity to clarify the position.

Anonymous said...

Jim:

Thanks for the reply.
FWIW, Mr. Parker has just posted the following about this matter on his website:

"This blogger posted about Miller/Campo charging for tasting Spanish wines or for visiting Spanish wineries a while ago.We launched an investigation at that time despite the fact that both Miller/Campo denied all the allegations. We found no substance or truth to any of the allegations.Now he has brought similar charges. This time we have requested our lawyers to fully examine every allegation again, and they have also retained an additional lawyer, from Madrid, to study the allegations, and if again false, consider legal action. Jay chooses and controls 100% of the wines he tastes and wineries he visits. He uses the Spanish Wine Academy(Pancho Campo is their President) to assist in organization.We would never permit a winery to pay us for the priviledge 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.There have been trade conferences organized by the Spanish Wine Academy that Jay has been paid a fee of $10,000(which seems reasonable) and far less than the amounts reported by this blogger.
I have been asked by our USA lawyers to refrain from commenting about this given the potential lawsuits by Jay,by Pancho, and possibly by TWA against these bloggers.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."


Things appear to be heating up...

Regards,

John Maher said...

Any news or views on the Miller/Campo event in Valencia yesterday, 30 November? I have an email from a Valencia winery stating they paid 500 euros for one of their wines to be included. No idea what other sums may have been involved from Consejo Regulador or others, if any.

Jim Budd said...

John. Thank you. I was coming to Valencia. I would be very interested in seeing the email from the winery and indeed any other correspondence they have relating to this visit. They can be assured that their identity will be protected. My is email is budmac@btinternet.com

My guess is that Valencia paid more as it is a larger DO. I'm told that Jimenéz of Asevin felt that Murcia had done well paying 29,000€ when Valencia had paid more. Any documented evidence would be most welcome.

Many thanks

Jim

Anonymous said...

It is truly amazing that Parker keeps turning a blind eye to this. Not only a blind eye, but unleashing threats and hostility towards simple questions and those who ask them. Lawyer time! One has to ask: where, exactly does he draw the line? Not where does he SAY he draws the line, but where he actually follows through? He has a long track record of deflecting the tough questions and, sadly, they almost always do fade away.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to mention that I work with several wineries here in Napa Valley - two of whom held tastings with Galloni in October. Neither one was asked for a fee to participate.

Jim Budd said...

Napa anon. Thanks. I'm sure that is right. It is unfortunate that what has been permitted to develop in Spain with Campo is in danger of damaging the work of people that I respect who work for Team Parker.

Vincent POUSSON said...

"Respect", I wanted to speak about this word, today, at Berthomeau's…

http://www.berthomeau.com/article-vincent-pousson-pense-a-tous-ces-gens-qui-sont-chacun-un-petit-morceau-du-vin-d-espagne-abimes-par-l-91015015.html

Anonymous said...

I am a huge supporter and fan of Spanish wine and find it a shame that Pancho Campo has become the visible mouthpiece for this country. I've taken his wine academy class on Spanish wines and found it full of incorrect information and frankly did nothing to benefit or educate wine professionals on Spanish wines. It was pretty pictures, donated wines from a couple of large Spanish wine companies and PR for a couple of wineries that I'm sure paid for the benfit of being mentioned. I wouldn't be surprised if this was entirely his doing to profit from his rold, but it's a shame on Parker that he doesn't cut him loose. It is just flat out unfortunate.

Stillman Brown said...

Great piece. I don't know or care what the Emperor Bob III knew or when he knew it. Remember that when the first Beaux Freres wines were released, Parker announced that as 1/3 owner, he would not review the wines as it would be unethical. He (and his brother in law) then sent an initial offering of BF wines to every Advocate subscriber in the (then 14) direct legal states. What was that worth? Does Consumer Reports sell toaster ovens by mail to their own subscribers?

Affonso Nunes said...

Dear Jim,

Jay Williams traveled to Brazil this year and tasted some of our wines. Did you ever hear some kind of business envolving this trip?

Anonymous said...

Looking at Jay Miller, whom I have never before seen, I can say with some degree of medical certainty, that here is a man who will not live out his anticipated life expectancy without some major lifestyle changes. Morbidly obese. He likely has hypertension and pre-diabetes. No time like right now to turn things around. This is an opportunity. Seize it. Any of you commenters who see a bit of yourself in him as well, do the same.

Anonymous said...

Knee-jerk sweeping statements like: "The result: No pay – no Jay" (when the fellow hasn't ever been paid out of turn for reviewing wines) would lead any reader with a modicum of intelligence or decency to seriously question whether or not to fully trust your judgement again.

Fortunately, looking at the comments above, this should not pose any immediate problem as of now.

However, clearly separating the "witch-hunt" / Miller aspect (that so appeals to the above) with that of investigating Campo, might be an idea in terms of retaining your fine reputation.

In in truth, Jay is actually very tasteful. Certainly he didn't fly out to Davos (à la Jancis), nor robustly partake of Rodenstock hospitality before putting the knife in ( à la Jancis), nor did give credibility to Pancho Campo ( à la Jancis) by attending Wine Future-Rioja 09 and Wine Future- Hong Kong 11 (if no fee then certainly five star expenses + ).

The Wine Advocate is one of the first (and only) publications to cover Spain in any detail regularly, in an attempt to provide comprehensive, vintage-on-vintage. (Of course the same could apply to any wine region of the world.)

To real crime here may just be a certain laziness and complacency on behalf of the others.

Take the UK for a moment. There is no publication that has visited or covered Spanish wine regions in the last decade even somewhat comprehensively in each vintage. The same could be said for Champagne.

That is the real crime.

Good luck with looking into the Pancho-isms. Dare say you will discover it's a case of using a situation to your own advantage, while delivering very little. Sound familiar.

As that great hero of the British left once said: "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime''.

Get tough on the causes.

Jim Budd said...

Anon. Thanks for your comments.

I would dispute that your description of a 'knee-jeck statement' coming as it does after the seriers of emails. However, I'm happy to again stress that I have not accused Miller of taking money to visit regions and taste their wines.

I do believe that the masterclasses being closely linked to the official visits of Miller as TWA reviewer was too cosy an arrangement and became effectively a way of Campo providing Miller with money for his visits. In the circumstances this was inappropriate behaviour by Miller. I have no problem with Miller being paid for giving masterclasses or seminar but these should have been properly separate.

I have stressed before that this is not a witch-hunt or whatever against Jay Miller, Robert Parker or TWA. I fancy they have been manipulated by Campo as has the Spanish wine industry. I hope this now at an end. I fear that the damage that Campo has caused will be more long lasting than this particular scandal.

It is a pity you chose to comment anonymously a name would have carried more force.

Anonymous said...

The assertion of "No pay – no Jay" is a knee-jerk sweeping statement. While it may come after, as you suggest, a 'seriers of emails', you yourself accept (at this point at least) you have, 'not accused Miller of taking money to visit regions and taste their wines'.

Yet you link the two issues and people above.

Few could admire that.

In linking the two issues: one of substance (perhaps) and one that, at this point, is merely pandering to the lowest for self-gain, you have damage readers' credulity in the future.

If you were fair or thoughtful you would have disentangled each from each other, for the time being. That would have been the first test of fairness and decency.

And to be fair, you still could do this.

Just call me less than impressed.

Jim Budd said...

Anon. If you read the emails from Pancho and The Wine Academy you will see that 'no pay - no Jay' is precisely the ploy. The link, in relation to Vinos de Madrid was made back in June.

Vincent POUSSON said...

Really, I think that one of Dr Miller's biggest problems in Spain was not to speak spanish. A lot of people (in the "Mondovino") knew the way it was. What a pity he couldn't discuss with them…

Jim Budd said...

Vincent. Thanks. I think it was also the siege mentality of TWA – the sense of always being under attack – allied with a dismissive view towards blogs that meant that neither Miller or Parker really started to ask the necessary questions once this latest scandal started.

Made even more difficult because it coincided with WineFuture Hong Kong.

Jim Budd said...

'Pancho's email of 4th June suggests that Miller may be involved in the payment. However, I do not consider Campo to be a credible witness. I have invited Miller to comment on this email and hope that he will take this opportunity to clarify the position.'

Re my comment of 30th November 2011. This should be Pancho's email of 3rd June 2011 not the 4th June. I have repeated this error is a number of subsequent posts. My apologies for the confusion – in the text of the post the date: 3rd June 2011 is clearly stated.

Corrections are being made.

Anonymous said...

Great work Jim & Harold, and kudos to you for sticking to your guns in face of the usual threats of litigation etc.

The wine business, a very big business nowadays, is littered with grey zones between supposedly independent reviewers/tasters/experts and producers/distributors.

We--- the consumers--- need to be very aware of the influence exerted on the "independent" experts. If they claim to be truly independent, they ought to publish their accounts.

How much of their operational costs are covered by web ads, paid trips, interest group seminars, joint ventures with on-line merchants, etc, versus income from consumers (book sales etc)? Follow the money, and make up your own mind about their "independence" working in the interest of the consumer.

In what other sector of consumer goods are the expert reviewers sleeping so tightly in bed with the producers/distributors? Why are we so lenient with the "independent" entourage that follows the wine industry?

To many so-called independents, the inherent hypocrisy in the system is an incredibly sensitive issue, and that's precisely why revelations such as the one in this blog hurt so much and everybody start screaming about litigation.