Years ago I met Spain’s first Master of Wine, Pancho Campo. He was teaching a Masters Course on the wines and regions of Spain. I enjoyed the class immensely and thought highly of Pancho, he was knowledgeable and humble. That course might have been his ‘coming out’ party as a Master of Wine, I believe that he had only just achieved that title a few months earlier. That might have been 2008. A short fours years and the story comes full-circle and it is a circular story at that.
The story is long and boring, so to just distill into the very simplest, Pancho worked with Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate on a project promoting wine on their reputations. However they both took money in a manner that was not above board, so the ‘blogosphere’ jumped on them and attorneys were brought to bear. Once that happens, the truth and facts become even more blurry, but in the end the MW organization investigated and it looks like they gladly accepted Pancho’s ‘resignation’ from the Institute.
I feel for Pancho as achieving a prestigious title such as Master of Wine or Master Sommelier takes years of dedication, commitment and a ton of financial investment. But the wine industry will continue to get better with more transparency. This transparency is being provided by fast moving content via the web, it can be breakneck at times and there needs to be careful filtering of that content to make sure it is legit.
We are also beginning to see the same scandalous wine behavior by the WSWA being brought to the fore in blogs, tweets and any other social manner that spreads. It will be interesting to observe this trend.
Speaking of WSWA, a posting of a news article mysteriously disappeared today. The title was Online Alcohol Retailers Sell To Minors 45% of Time – Study This on the same day that the WSWA has been all over the news with Craig Wolf bashing the Wine Wholesaers most important clients and an article on BBC about North America’s archaic wine laws (more than 4,000 of them).
Here are a few links to related stories on both the Pancho/Jay Miller stories and the WSWA (Wine & Spirits Wholesaler of America).
An update just came through on May 8th, 2012 related to both these topics. Michael F. Spratt, Ph.D and Mark L. Feldman Ph.D both of Destiny Bay Vineyards in New Zealand have written a book that looks like it will bring much of the dirty laundry and ugly business practices of the wine industry to light. We can only hope. Here is the PR Release about it.
La Revue du Vin de France (in french)
Decanter Weighs In (best wine mag in world)