Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Wine Academy of Spain denies accusations against Campo and Miller

As reported on thedrinksbusiness.com, The Wine Academy of Spain (TWAS) has issued a statement categorically denying the accusations against Pancho Campo MW (pictured) and Jay Miller that Spanish wineries were being charged up to €40,000 by Campo for a visit from Miller. “The Wine Academy of Spain never requested from any wineries monies for the visits of Jay Miller or for tasting their wines,” reads the statement, signed by Campo, president and founder of the academy. “All the expenses for Jay Miller to travel to Spanish wine regions to taste and review wines were covered by The Wine Advocate, including his transportation, accommodation, meals and any other related expenses,” the statement continues.

According to Campo, the only occasion when fees had been charged were for “the organisation, setup and management of events that included seminars, conferences, masterclasses and guided tastings, which were open to the public,” but that “None of these fees were ever paid to The Wine Advocate.” Campo asserts that it was made clear to all Wine Academy of Spain staff that wineries could not pay fees for Jay Miller to taste their wines on behalf of The Wine Advocate, and that Miller was not allowed to accept hospitality at restaurants or gifts.

Earlier this year, TWAS organised a wine show in Jumilla with the Association of Wine from the Region of Murcia (Asevin) featuring a masterclass by Miller. Before contracts were signed, Asevin sent out an email trying to raise money from the wineries, contrary to the stipulations in the proposed agreement. According to Campo, “At that point, TWAS put the event on hold until the wineries were informed that they could not be asked for any kind of payment for possible visits and for submitting samples.” Campo is preparing to take legal action “in order to obtain the necessary measures against persons and publications having published information potentially damaging the reputation and the honour of The Wine Academy of Spain.”

Jay Miller resigned from Robert Parker’s bi-monthly publication The Wine Advocate last week to return to wine consulting, lecturing and wine retail. Miller denied his stepping down had anything to do with the Spain debacle. “Some may believe my stepping down is in response to my critics, nothing could be further from the truth. I have never accepted (or request) fees for visiting wine regions or wineries,” he said.

Both Miller and Parker indicated this was a voluntary departure on Miller's part, with Parker referencing the tediousness of tasting mediocre wines that can "burn out the best of us,” adding, "change is never easy, but often essential.” Miller's Spain, Chile, and Argentina responsibilities will be taken over by UK-based Neal Martin, while coverage of Oregon wines will go to David Schildnecht.

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