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"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee 2019

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Spain's Top Wine Writer José Peñin on the Pancho Campo-Wine Advocate-Robert M. Parker Jr., Jay Miller "Pay for Play" So-called "Murciagate" Controversy

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José Peñin and Gerry Dawes in New York.

Here is my rough translation of José Peñin’s (Spain's top wine writer) post on concerning the Pancho Campo-Jay Miller-Robert M. Parker, Jr. controversy, which has been called "Pay for Play." Many critics--professional bloggers like Dr. Vino, Mike Steinberger's Wine Diarist  and British writer Jim Budd and non-professional bloggers like Arto Koskelo's koskeloonwine (his Hades of Parker is brilliant)--believe that documented evidence (obtained from various sources) suggests that Miller's reviews of Spanish wines in The Wine Advocate are being influenced by "speaking fees" of up to $15,000 (verified from an event in Navarra).  

Documented reports of other solicited payments for "appearance" and "speaking" fees in Murcia and Madrid have also been reported and Miller was reportedly paid for an appearance at another early December "cata magistral" (master tasting) conducted by Pancho Campo with only the wines of the D.O. Valencia, which footed the 35,000 Euro Pancho Campo Wine Academy of Spain bill.  

Reports of what was paid (if anything) a few day's later for Miller's appearance in the obscure Málaga denominación de origen or in Jerez de la Frontera have not yet surfaced.

I have changed some of the literal translation to refect what the statement actually means.  If any one sees any errors in this regard, please point them out and I will gladly correct them.

Below are Peñin's observations from his post on, which are the first we have seen from an important Spanish wine writer, with the execption of some post comments by's Victor de la Seran.  The rest of the Spanish wine press, many of whom have reportedly received payments from Pancho Campo's The Wine Academy for events (and in 2009, reports of lawyers representing Pancho Campo threatening them with legal action), has been notoriously silent on the issue.

José Peñin on

"The matter is very clear. Parker, as any writer or journalist, charged for a non-binding presentation or a tasting as he has done in the two WineFuture events (in La Rioja and in Hong Kong).

Any time that a personality wearing his journalistic cloak is invited by an institution, consortium or collective to visit an area and therefore taste their wines (for review), he must not charge a penny. It is my understanding that Jay Miller comes to accomplish this type of journalistic work and reflects it in (his tasting notes reports) in The Wine Advocate.

What seems to me outrageous is that in this (presumed) work, which is supposed to be informative and independent, that he uses an an intermediary, like one of those managers of stars who charge their clients (for appearances), which makes one feel like he (Miller) is being served up on a plate, which is like something out of a soap opera.

Does Jay (Miller) actually charge more than his travel expenses? I don't think so. In other years Jay Miller tasted Spanish wines in his own country and did not charge for it (tasting the wines). The costs of (Miller’s) travel (to and in Spain) and for his stay in our country have nothing to do with the figure of 20,000 euros charged by the intermediary, in this case Pancho (Campo), and this logically is reprehensible because surreptiously it puts a price on the announcement "Jay (Miller) is coming to taste Spanish wines that will appear in (his reviews) in The Wine Advocate."

Pancho (Campo) wrote in this forum ( that the (various) D. O.(s) contracted him (Miller) for various events. Yes, but not because of the importance and and popularity of you (Pancho Campo), nor even the Jay Miller, but due to the significance of the famous newsletter (The Wine Advocate) that is directed by the true guru who is (Robert M.) Parker.

I have transmitted to Pancho that even bringing Miller to tour Spain as a favor without other pecuniary condition should have been left in the hands of someone from his (Campo's) team (to make arrangements). I told him that his rapidly growing reputation for accompanying Parker’s (Robert M. Parker, Jr. of The Wine Advocate) is not going to end well. 

Pancho (Campo) is a Master of Wine and the prestige obtained not only by the organization of the two important WineFutures events, as well as those Climate Change events, but also his educational activity of spreading (knowledge) about Spanish wines in the world, is being threatened by this “Miller circus.”

And there is Jim Budd’s long epistle (about the Pancho Campo, Jay Miller, Robert M. Parker so-called Murciagate affair).

Friend Pancho, I think it will cost you sweat and tears to put your next Wine Futures event together (because of this “circus”).
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