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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"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. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Dubai: Third-World Justice or The New York of the Middle East? And What Does Dubai Have to Do with WineFuture-Rioja 2009?

* * * * * 

What does Dubai have to do with Spain and especially Spanish wine or food, including the upcoming WineFuture-Rioja 2009 conference whose (recently "resigned") Director  is Pancho Campo, President (also recently "resigned') of the Wine Academy,  the official organizer of the event?

And what does all this have to do with Pancho Campo, Robert M. Parker, Jr., Jancis Robinson, Kevin Zraly, Steven Spurrier, Gary Vaynerchuk and Jorge Ordoñez, all of whose pictures adorn this poster announcement for WineFuture-Rioja 2009?

Well, a lot lately.  Read on.

by Charlie Hamilton, The National (newspaper), Dubai

"A warrant has been posted on the Interpol website for the arrest of a Spanish concert promoter who was convicted in Dubai in 2003 of breach of trust after a falling-out with his business partner.

Francisco Campo, 48, was convicted in his absence following a wrangle with the former partner, Jackie Wartanian.

According to court documents, Campo was charged with breach of trust on June 5, 2002, found guilty on June 1, 2003, and sentenced to one year in jail followed by deportation. The case revolved around a €600,000 (Dh3.2m) claim that Ms Wartanian had brought against Campo over fraudulent business dealings. Ms Wartanian’s lawyer, Amna Jallaf, said a civil case had also been filed against Campo."

* * * * * 
According to Campo and his lawyers, the charges--including his being convicted and sentenced to a year in jail and deportation--are false and Dubai is a place where third-world Arab justice is meted out to unsuspecting Westerners:
From an article on "Alfonso Martinez, Campo's lawyer, cast doubt on the veracity of the arrest warrant. 'This can be done by petitioning a judge in Dubai using a lawyer."

And Campo, who was recently named a Master of Wine, wrote this in a letter to his fellow MWs: 

"I was not aware also that there are hundreds of cases such as this in Dubai that are constantly being exposed by British and American media about people who carried out business in this part of the world
and have been issued Interpol notices."

* * * * *

GD: I am very confused by all this and I don't know whom to believe, especially when I read reports such as these:

Vicente Cacho, the Spanish Consul in the United Arab Emirates, says that ‘Pancho Campo left his Chilean passport at a Dubai court as proof he wasn't going to flee the country and then did so with a Spanish passport’.  -- Jim Budd, Jim's Loire.

From: Jackie Wartanian

Date: September 9, 2009 1:47:49 AM GMT+04:00
To: xxxxxxxx
Cc: xxxxxx

Subject: RE: The National

Yes I am out of town and just saw your email. The statement you are saying is wrong. It is not alleged, it is all facts, but you are welcome to contact my lawyer who is cc’d in this email. I am not the only one who has gone to court with him. If you want the true facts please contact (my lawyer [whose name and phone number followed]).

Kind regards,  Jackie Wartanian

* * * * *

And this, again from Jim Budd, who originally broke the story on, on his Jim's Loire website, which has extensive information on the Pancho Campo case:  

"Certainly he (Pancho Campo) has continued to have support from people like Jancis Robinson MW, Steven Spurrier and Robert Joseph, as well as Siobhan Turner, executive director of the Institute of Masters of Wine."

Two weeks after Campo was forced to resign (on October 1) as Director of WineFutures-Rioja 2009, Kevin Zraly of the Windows on the World Wine Course school was named to succeed Campo.  

After all this evidence had come out, six weeks later, new "Technical Director" Kevin Zraly had this to say in an  interview published on the Wine Academy website that many suspect was done by Campo himself:

"That there will be more WineFutures! Pancho Campo has done a tremendous job in bringing all segments of the market together to discuss how we can all move forward in the distribution of wines throughout the world. The logistics of putting a first time event like this together were enormous and I congratulate Pancho and his team for having the foresight and energy to organize this event."

 * * * * *  
Then there are those who see Dubai in a different light:

"I have to admit that I viewed my first trip to Dubai with some reservations but now feel that I have actually been professionally negligent in taking so long to visit this rapidly developing Emirate.

As someone who tries to keep his finger on the pulse of the world of restaurants I had made a mental note each time I read that one five-star Dubai hotel had poached a top European chef to be their executive chef or another had lured chefs from further afield to open outposts in a similar manner to that practised by Las Vegas hotels. But I had so far failed to appreciate just what a brave new world Dubai has become." - - From an  article by Nick Lander, Jancis Robinson's husband on Jancis

Report in Departures Magazine on Dubai in 2006 (Departures is the American Express magazine for Platinum card [and higher] holders):

Dubai's Big Boom

Built on sand, oil, and gold-plated everything, a new Xanadu is rising in the Middle East. SOPHY ROBERTS reports from the land of caviar facials and indoor ski slopes.
I am standing on the "H" of the helipad at the top of the Burj al Arab, the Dubai hotel that billows like a sail plump with wind on a manmade island in the Persian Gulf. For many observers of this desert boomtown—and it does seem as if all eyes are on Dubai—the Burj is the emblem of the city's freewheeling spirit, a kind of go-go giddiness that is not altogether shared by the United Arab Emirates' less liberal states. Dubai, unlike Abu Dhabi and the five other emirates, "has always been a wide-open place, ever since it was a smuggling center for gold," says Christopher Dickey, a Newsweek correspondent who lived here in 1987 and returns frequently.

In the November-December 2009 issue of Departures Culture Watch Section, there is a multi-page article on the United Arab Emirates featuring Dubai:  A Connoisseur's Guide to the New Middle East. 

Of coincidental interest concerning Kevin Zraly and Dubai is this really quite glowing article about  Zraly in The New York Times. The banner My Dubai Diary advertisement running next to the article on Zraly has nothing to do with him, but it has really quite a prescient, you-can't make-this-stuff-up, irony to it.
 * * * * *

Personally, I don't know what the real story is about Dubai justice, nor do I know for sure that Pancho Campo is guilty of defrauding Jackie Wartanian of nearly $1,000,000, but what I do know is--guilty or not of what he has been accused of and sentenced to a year in jail for--Pancho Campo through his lawyer, Alfonso Martínez, threatened me, a journalist who has been writing in glowing terms about Spain and its food and wines, as well as La Rioja, for more than 30 years and was awarded Spain's Premio Nacional de Gastronómia in 2003.

I was told that "we don't want to have to go to the American Embassy nor the Spanish Embassy*, nor get into litigation with you . . ." and was told by Martínez, "I am coming to New York next week and I want to sit down with you and see if we can come to an 'amicable compromise.'  (All of this came in a phone call on September 2, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. (New York time), 00:30 (after midnight Spanish time)(*What the Hell were they going to do by going to the "embassies," tell them that I had passed information that Campo was being sought by Interpol for fraud involved nearly $1,000,000!!?)

The phone call was followed by an e-mail to a third-party address, the same e-mail addresss to which I had sent to Kevin Zraly the information I had received from Spain about Pancho Campo's troubles in Dubai, his subsequent detention in Paris and at the Hotel Miguel Angel in Madrid (where, at both the latter places, he was detained and questioned about the Dubai affair-Interpol notice).

In addition to threatening me, there is evidence (yes, we have it!) on attempts to coerce, threaten or make offers that could be construed as attempted inducements to other journalists, including Decanter's Jim Budd, after he had written the first article on Campo's arrest warrant in Decanter on September 4 and before a second article on the affair was published.  

Budd was offered a speaking engagement at Vinoble 2010, which, in theory, will also be run by Campo and his Wine Academy--a speaking engagement for Budd would entail at the very least a flight from London, accommodations in a top hotel in Jerez and, it goes without saying, a nice honorarium.  

Jim Budd declined.  In fact, Budd says that he refuses to have anything to do with Vinoble 2010 (he is an expert on Loire Valley sweet wines, among others) until he gets some answers to some pointed questions to Campo, which he has posted as The questions Pancho Campo MW won’t answer on his Jim's Loire website. 

In his post, "Pancho, You can run but you can't hide," Jim Budd wrote, "I'm sure that the presentation and tasting would have been worthwhile and interesting but I, for one, am going to have nothing to do with Vinoble until Pancho provides detailed answers to the questions I have been asking."

Related link: Background to the Pancho Campo-Kevin Zraly-Robert Parker Wine Futures Rioja Affair 2009

About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand prize in 2009 and received the Association of Food Journalists 2009 Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television
series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

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