ParkerGate was picked up by gawker.com – wonderful headline – the writer called it a “Professional Wine Snob Booze Junket Payola Scandal” – and described The Wine Advocate as “a wine publication which is considered very well-well-well by the la-dee-da set.”
I couldn’t help but smile.
The post concluded by saying, “wine criticism is bullshit.” Ha.
The post did allude to the recent statement by David Schildknecht saying Jay Miller had been planning to retire long before the supposed “scandal” broke. Gawker editor Hamilton Nolan wrote that, "... at minimum, it looks very corrupt!”
The gawker post - and the latest post on the Baltimore Sun's website - where the reporter at least bothered to speak with Jay Miller and with journalist Jim Budd - show how this story has taken on a life of its own via the blogosphere. Everyone seems to have an opinion - and they're assuming Pancho Campo was on the take - and there seems to be all this built up resentment about The Wine Advocate and about Jay Miller anyway - some of the comments on the blogs were pretty funny. As Ryan Opaz, a blogger based in Spain, put it on his Catavino blog, "there is no limit to the amount of navel gazing possible by any niche community."
Sometimes things are not what they seem, though. I suspect there’s less to this saga than meets the eye.
I have long admired Jim Budd's work as a journalist. Budd was a regular contributor to the Wine Business Insider newsletter for a couple years too.
Is Jim Budd's reporting on this “Professional Wine Snob Booze Junket Payola Scandal” good investigative journalism or is it inflammatory and inaccurate?
I’m keeping an open mind.
I do think some of Budd’s posts on Campo have been over the top.
As an aside, I will say I've wondered about the relationship between Campo and Miller. When I attended a very well planned industry conference in Ribera del duero, there were several impressive speakers. Campo and Miller made an impromtu appearance because they were in the area. They took to the stage so Miller could ostensibly take questions. The wine producers in the room were all asking how they could get their wines reviewed in The Wine Advocate but Miller was evasive and dull. There were many, many great wines to taste there, though.
Yesterday, I called Pancho Campo to ask if he’d be releasing a statement and/or had plans to sue Jim Budd. I asked if the emails reportedly written by Campo that Budd posted to his blog were authentic.
Campo said the emails in question were taken out of context and were not reproduced in their entirety. He said the correspondence in question related not to visiting a handful of wineries to taste their wines but to the many costs of producing a public trade event and formal tasting for 200 people with an appearance by Jay Miller and a presentation by Campo; along with the expenses of renting the venue; hotel accommodations for staff; transportation; audio visual equipment; printing, glasses, sommeliers; a production crew to record and edit video of the event, and so forth. Campo emphasized that wineries would never have been asked to contribute toward the costs of producing such an event.
Campo said Jay Miller visited more than 20 appellations and nearly 100 wineries over a year-and-a half and that all expenses were covered by Wine Advocate.
He said he will be releasing a statement later this week, along with an official statement from the president of Wines of Madrid detailing negotiations with the Wine Academy of Spain and showing that the emails in question were taken out of context (here's page one and page two in Spanish).
Campo additionally confirmed he is preparing to take legal action against Budd, who resides in the UK. “Unless he’s willing to go back and say, ‘I made a mistake,’” offered Campo. “What he published is absolutely false.”
To be continued. ... We’ll see how this story unfolds.
ps, if Robert Parker needs another staffer to help pick up the slack at The Wine Advocate, maybe he should give this kid a shot.
Patrick of Venice CA comments
"The only problem I have with Jay is that he can't speak Spanish. Why would you assign someone to cover Spain and Argentina if they can't speak Spanish. For that reason only, it's good that he's going."