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Pancho Campo: Master of Wine No More

2012 May 4
by Mike

Pancho Campo resigned yesterday from the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW). According to Siobhan Turner, the IMW’s executive director, he gave up his membership “in light of his move into more sports and music events and away from wine” (there was no mention of a desire to spend more time with his family). The IMW had been conducting a probe into Campo’s business practices, undertaken as a result of the controversy surrounding his work for The Wine Advocate and his dealings with some regional wine associations in Spain. According to Jim Budd, who had put a spotlight on Campo’s questionable conduct, the IMW had completed its investigation, and its board was due to meet this week to consider Campo’s case.

Via email, Siobhan Turner told me that 20 people have resigned from the IMW since its founding in 1953, a figure that includes Campo. I was surprised the number was that high; given the effort and money required to earn the Master of Wine designation, I had assumed that maybe just four or five people had ever quit or been defrocked. At any rate, the timing of Campo’s resignation—coming the same week that the IMW board was to consider his fate—certainly suggests that this was a case of jump or be pushed.

14 Responses leave one →
  1. mauss permalink
    May 19, 2012

    Bonjour Jack !

    After all these episodes on ethic rules to apply in the wine’critics world, I am quite sure this subject will be discussed in depth more and more. Why ? Simply because wine journalists are not paid properly by their newspapers, because more and more producers will not send free samples (even Bettane does not get some top names), and because, at the same time, new producers want to be under the radar and then, are ready to pay for that.
    At our next edition of the World Wine Symposium (Davos du Vin) at Villa d’Este (nov 8-11), Antonio Galloni will be one of the speakers in order to discuss where the yellow lines have to be put and what is possible and what is not, besides all the growing sector of wine comments on the web.
    Here, in Europe, the topic is hot too. Do I surprise you, Jack, if I tell you that the future will be more and more in favor of blind tastings ?
    Enjoy !

  2. Jack Bulkin permalink
    May 16, 2012

    Francois, Miller’s Monday Morning Quaterbacking was his first lucid momment since he became a wine critic. I never objected to his reporting because sadly, the wines he was assigned to taste are not in my wheelhouse. I have complained on EBOB about the ludicrous ethics statement being abused by Parker and his Indedpendent writers for years…to mostly deaf ears. I am glad that Jay has chimed in agreement although to again mostly deaf ears..

  3. mauss permalink
    May 8, 2012

    Very interesting to read the new post of Mr Miller about the policy which should azpply to wine-critics :

    “Monday Morning Quarterbacking (Or How This Mess Could Have Been Avoided)
    When RMP hired a new set of writers in 2006, he should have required that they be employees and not independent contractors. Then he should have promulgated three rules as a condition of employment:
    1. Employee/writers for The Wine Advocate may accept no funding other than that provided by The Wine Advocate for tastings, travel, and other associated expenses.
    2. Other activities such as paid tastings, writings, speeches, wine dinners must be approved in advance by RMP.
    3. Employee/writers may not socialize with members of the wine trade (importers, retailers, winery owners, etc) outside of formal tasting events.
    Not following the rules results in immediate termination.

    These are high standards (but totally in congruence with RMP’s already published code)but I would have agreed in a heartbeat for the opportunity to write for wine’s most prestigious publication.
    MrBigJ”

    Quite a challenge not only in USA but then also in Europe where wine publications are always crying about the too small budget they may offer to their journalists.

  4. Jane Skilton permalink
    May 7, 2012

    I see Stephen hasn’t replied so I’ll leap in. My subscription to the IMW is GBP300 per year. Whilst it may not sound a huge amount, in the past (when I think most of the resignations occured), perhaps for those in retirement just couldn’t justify the expense. I know when I first moved to NZ, wasn’t working and the exchange rate was going against me, I paid almost NZ$900.
    The IMW introduced a much reduced rate for members who reached retirement age. This recognised their contribution over the years and still allowed them to be part of the Institute. The retired members fee is GBP45 per year.
    Hope this helps.

  5. May 5, 2012

    Thanks, Kent, for the information regarding Norman.

    Thanks, Robin, for that item regarding Campo. It would be interesting to know when the IMW found out about his problems in Dubai.

    Stephen, my thanks for stopping by and for the information regarding MW resignations. Just out of curiosity: What is the annual membership fee?

  6. Stephen Skelton MW permalink
    May 5, 2012

    Most resignations from the IMW are by older members who have stopped working and the annual membership fees too high, even though they are reduced for retirees. Very, very few have resigned in the same way as Pancho Campo.

  7. RobinC permalink
    May 5, 2012

    I found this on an old Decanter blog:
    The beleagured Campo (pictured) has been embroiled in a complex battle with authorities in Dubai for the last few weeks, after a Madrid journalist came across a type of arrest warrant or ‘location notice’ for him on the Interpol website.

    The warrant relates to a 2002 complaint brought by former business partner Jackie Wartanian to do with a fee paid to singer Enrique Iglesias. At the time Campo ran a sports and music promotion company in Dubai.

    It now appears that in June 2003 in Dubai Campo was found guilty in absentia of breach of trust and given a one-year custodial sentence followed by deportation.

  8. Kent Benson permalink
    May 5, 2012

    Mike, the dust cover of my copy of Grand Cru says he resigned in 2003. A while back I asked another MW (I think it was Tim Hanni, I can’t remember) why Norman resigned and the response was something like, “Norman is just an odd fellow.”

  9. May 5, 2012

    Yes, Lee, I think Pancho did them the favor and jumped.

    Saúl, I should have used that old line!

    Kent, I’ve wondered, too, about Norman’s resignation. Did he resign in 2003? For some reason, I thought it was more recently.

    Joe, I’m not sure what the reasons were, and the IMW is tight-lipped about these matters; I tried to get further comment from them regarding Campo, and they wouldn’t say a thing, which I found disappointing.

  10. May 4, 2012

    With that many people resigning, was there a common reason? I do wonder about why some one would give up the title… well aside from Pancho, that’s a little more obvious.

  11. May 4, 2012

    Speaking of MW resignations, I’ve always wondered about the story behind the resignation of author, Remington Norman, who became an MW in 1984 and resigned in 2003. His books, Grand Cru and The Great Domaines of Burgundy are excellent resources.

  12. Saúl permalink
    May 4, 2012

    Brings back to mind the famous Roberto Duran line vs Sugar Ray Leonard: “no mas, no mas”

  13. May 4, 2012

    Jump or be pushed. Now they don’t need to push.

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