The fallout from the rainmaker in Spain

Last week, Pancho Campo resigned from the Institute of Masters of Wine. An email from the Institute’s executive director said that “in light of his move into more sports and music events and away from wine, he has decided to resign his membership of the Institute of Masters of Wine, effective immediately.” The Institute had commissioned an independent investigation–the findings of that report were about to be released.

A couple of weeks ago, Robert Parker released his own investigation into the Campo/Miller tours of Spain (For a backgrounder, read “No Jay, no pay.”). The summary report stated that no actual impropriety occurred yet suggested revisions to the ethics statement to apply to all Wine Advocate contributors, not just Parker. The report prompted a lengthy thread on eRobertParker.com, including a stunning intervention that laid out a chronology of some of the events and said that the “decent and classy” thing to do would be to apologize to Jim Budd, who had reported on each development of the scandal on his blog and had documented cooperated with Parker’s lawyers despite Parker’s insistence to the contrary.

The conversation there shifted to the topic of whether Antonio Galloni should have attended an importer’s lavish dinner in the company of producers from Burgundy, California, and Italy whose wines he reviews as well as some big-time collectors, including a member of the Forbes billionaire list. After responding to some questions, Galloni accused his questioners of having an “agenda” and complained of how tiresome it is to attend dinners and constantly field questions about “wines, vintages, producers, the WA etc.”

Yesterday, Jay Miller posted a comment on eBob arguing that since 2006 (when he was hired) all Wine Advocate contributors should have been employees, not “independent contractors,” been banned from schmoozing with the trade, and have any outside activities pre-approved by Parker.

Robert Parker long ago laid down an admirable set of standards for wine writers. If those are no longer tenable for the Wine Advocate, they should be altered. If they are still tenable, they should be applied to all contributors at the publication.

Related: “Does the Wine Advocate buy over $700,000 worth of wine a year?

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11 Responses to “The fallout from the rainmaker in Spain”


  1. I have said it before and I will say it again, Robert Parker’s ethical standards are a joke.

    They put him and his other wine critics on a pedestal that they cannot stay on, or even try to stay on.

    To beat the “we do not take advertising dollars, so we are immune to bias” is an incredible leap of faith, as shown in the Jay Miller scenario.

    I wish the new “regime” of Galloni, Martin, etc, would just come out and say

    1) We do not buy our sample wines for reviews, as Parker used to state
    2) We do not taste blind as Parker used to state
    3) We will go out to dinners with winemakers and importers, and owners of wineries, if we feel like it, as we do now
    4) We will take free trips if we feel like it, as we do now
    5) We will do events, dinners, exhibitions, for profit, with members of the business, as we do now

    Then consumers can draw their own picture


  2. Daniel, I agree that there are too many slips ‘twixt the cup and the lip; practice and policy must be aligned, whether it is along the lines of the existing policy or a looser one.

    Either way, transparency is key.


  3. Can I comment here without getting crucified by false GOD worshippers Tyler? LOL. I guess I can, but I couldn’t on the “Only we have Ethics Wine Newsletter” By the way, I still haven’t figured out this agenda that I am accused of carrying against WA. Can you help out a bewildered brother, and clue me on the nature of my sinister agenda?


  4. Sorry, its very difficult read the text with this color…


  5. I’m with Daniel. I expect wine critics to go out to dinner, schmooze, and drink tons of fancy wine for free. I really don’t care. Just don’t take money from people in exchange for reviews. It’s the one unethical thing that I can’t accept.

    And spare me the sob stories of how “tiring” these dinners can be. There are people in this world with real jobs; nobody cares how exhausted Galloni gets drinking vintage bottles of Chateau Margaux.


  6. mariansheras – Thanks for stopping by and sorry you had trouble reading it. Please try reloading the page for it to display correctly, black text on an white background.


  7. Jack – You are welcome to post your thoughts, questions and “agendas” here.

    Gabe- Yes, that’s my point exactly: if the policy is no longer tenable, change the policy.


  8. Thanks Tyler. If I am able to discover my secret insidious agenda against these poor ethical wine critics, you will be the first to know.


  9. Tyler, that makes sense to me. And after reading your policies, I guess that means I can’t offer you some payola to give my latest homebrew 90+ points


  10. I was reading through this, after reading a bunch of Jim Budd’s reporting, and suddenly felt weary of reading about corruption in the wine business (not just critics, but producers, wholesalers, people like Pancho Campo, Rudy Kirwianan, and good old Hardy Rodenstock (Meinhard Görke). And realized that as much as I wish it would all go away, it won’t. It will probably get worse. This is slightly O/T, but there’s a new economics book called “What Money Can’t Buy” by Michael Sandel that discusses the consequences of living in a society where literally everything is for sale. If you’re at all interested, here’s a review.


  11. [...] capricious art of wine tasting into a quasi-science.(It’s worth noting that there have been some allegations regarding the impartiality of his magazine, the Wine [...]


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