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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


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”).


  1. Anonymous2:56 PM

    It is surprising that it took so long for (at least some of) the methods of chilean MW Pancho Campo to surface, considering that they were vox populi in the Spanish wine industry for so long. This man is bringing down Bob Parker and will seriously damage the reputation of the title Master of Wine. He may even bring down Jancis, who has supported him with (surprising?) enthusiasm, although lately she seems to have understood and is moving away from him as fast as she can.

  2. As far as a Wine Reviewer (wine critic), Jay Miller, or any other, is concerned, its is their authentic and correct output about wines that make their reputation or professionalism stand. Therefore, it is a long shot that Miller would differ on his opinion about wines due to Pancho Campo`s so called "adventures". Miller and any other critic only have their palate and words where consumers evaluate the truth or not or the quality of their opinions. To go against that is to kill their own business. On the issue of Pancho Campo, if he took advantage of Jay Millers visits to charge wine producers, it is wrong, but also for wine producers to pay. Would you pay to have your product evaluated but without knowing the outcome?. Doubt it. Finally, all markets where spanish wines are available will determine weather they like it or not by trying them. Isn´t that what happens anyway when a critic says a wine is good. Then each one becomes a wine critic AND a critic of the critic. So get busy and try more wines. Enjoy.

  3. We have had a plethora of what I think are downright bad wines being sold because of the reviews favoring overwrought, over alcoholic, overoaked and overripe wines in recent years and a lot of nuevos aficionados of wine have swallowed such reviews hook, line and sinker. There is evidence that they are turning against these type of wines now, but it had taken for too long, IMHO.


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