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Hey, ho! Please let Pancho go! ~ Time for some wine drinking.

Despite our continued posting, we still plan on closing Catavino. Gabriella and I are finished here, onto bigger and better things, but strangely, we can’t stop just yet. I have a few more things to get off my chest, and after my recent post on the Pancho affair; I know I need to do it sooner than later. I’m overwhelmed by the response to my last post, and maybe this blogging thing could pay off if we could pump out a post like that more often.

The truth is though, I don’t want too.

I love wine. Actually I love flavors. Wine, beer, booze, food, foams, gels, confits and stacked culinary creations of unknown heights. I love it. If it tastes good and passes through my mouth, I like it. If it’s weird, or unusual, I probably will love it. This is why we started Catavino, and ironically, this is why we ended it. We want to move onto covering more about things we eat, and drink outside Iberia, our adopted home.

I’m saying this now, because I think some of the people reading this should consider moving back to the topic of wine too. As I said, I personally do not want to write posts like I did yesterday very often.

I have no love for Pancho Campo. Our relationship has been a mixed affair; of myself begrudgingly accepting an opportunity that I thought could lead to better exposure for my own brand. Wine Future 1 was great, and I thank Pancho for the opportunity to be there, and for being given a voice. It helped me immensely but that does not mean that I have to like the guy who organized it, just respect what he did. Nor do I need to love the event as a whole. Wine Future is stuck in the past. It claims to predict the future by inviting pillars of the industry that point out what is wrong with the present, while lamenting the past. Asia may be the future of wine consumption, but it is not wine’s future.

In addition, despite great networking opportunities, I don’t think the event helped the industry as a whole. There weren’t many groundbreaking theories or thoughts beyond the ability to cram so many egos into such a small stage all at one time, myself included – an effort Pancho should be commended for. It made great photos and fodder for us all to riff on. But most importantly, Wine Future wasn’t good for Spain.

It is true that Pancho’s Spanish Wine Academy has done a lot to spread the good word about Spanish wine, but at what cost?  Pancho has consistently brought the shadow of scandal, something that no innocent man has ever had to deal with as much as he has. Spain has put a lot of money in Pancho’s pocket, and what’s amazing is not Pancho’s ability to extract it, so much as Spain’s willingness to let it go!

That said I don’t want to beat up Pancho either. My post yesterday was not about picking on Pancho. I realize there was some snark, and I’m not apologizing for that, but I am getting sick of hearing all this “Pancho did this…” and “Pancho did that…” commentary on the blogosphere. LAY OFF! Pancho did NOTHING ILLEGAL (or so I believe, I am not a lawyer here). Yesterday was my attempt to say that the industry has a problem as a whole.  I do believe he corrupted the ethics of the Wine Advocate, a magazine that I have held a lot of respect for, and for this I think Pancho should get a firm wag of the finger, but he did nothing illegal. Between you and I, I think that the order of importance of things in Pancho’s life goes something like this: Pancho, Family, Money, Ferraris, Skiing, Jet Skiing and Wine. But that is not a crime. Wine pays the bills so the rest can be enjoyed.

So what?

The real issue we need to talk about is a simple one. How can we continue support a wine industry that allows for a Pancho to be born? Why do we continue to give SO MUCH POWER TO SO FEW PEOPLE? Why do we continually make lists of the best wines, and the “highest” rated wines, and allow these opportunities for corruption to enter into our special world? Idolatry did nothing for the wandering Jews, and it’s definitely failing the curious wine drinker. This problem is not unique to the wine industry, but I believe in the wine world we might as well try our best to fix it.

Wine is for drinking. It’s really not that important in the grand scheme of things. High alcohol wines, are not going to bring Armageddon, nor will over-oaking kill small children. Sure we like to debate these things, and claim that the “industry is being threatened by x, y, or z”, but the industry is only being threatened by people who think that wine tastes are OBJECTIVE and quantifiable. That there is a right wine and a wrong wine. By allowing people like Parker to have so much power, we create people like Pancho who want to harness their influence for their own gain; thus leaving us angry when someone finally figures out how to make money in this industry! Pancho is not the first nor the last to sell points to someone/region/winery. Nor is he the only one taking advantage of the wine industry.

Pancho has made a killing on Spain. We shouldn’t be shaming Pancho however, as I tried to point out in my last post, we need to be shaming Spain. Spain handed over the money, taking what they hoped would be the easy way out. Valencia, I ask you,  why pay 35,000 euros for three days of Pancho and Jay? Really? Give me 35, 000 euros and I’ll give you 1 year’s worth of original engaging content on your wines, foods, and culture, all freely yours to distribute and use. I’ll also throw in a seminar for your wineries on how to set up Google alerts and other mysteries of the web; and then I’ll invite over a few importers who actually buy wines and don’t just spit and score. They actually buy wines! You might even make your money back!

Look, I’m not trying to be snarky. Oh wait, I am. Jim Budd, I like you, but seriously get over Pancho. I think your wife might be missing you; the affair has lasted too long. You exposed something corrupt, and great, we’re all looking now, but please go back to being a wine writer! Snide comments about him only undermines your efforts at good investigative journalism. I and many others than you for your efforts. To everyone else, myself included, I say move on and create a voice that will change the industry, rather than pointing fingers at the ones who you think are doing it wrong. Make a difference. Don’t make excuses. Show us wine’s future. Offer solutions, don’t just cry sour grapes!

Oh and Robert, Mr. Parker, Bob. I really like you. You are the reason I am in wine. You made me fall in love and now I’m in it for life. You’ve taught me so much that I feel I need to return the favor by saying, WAKE UP. Criticism does not mean that the person criticizing you necessarily is wrong, or bad, or a blobber! It means they might have a point, so at least listen. Grow a thick skin and realize you are not better then the people who read your magazines, or more moral than the bloggers who hope to one day have a voice of their own.

Engage. I love what you did for the wine industry. You changed it, but today your points at times corrupt the industry. You are smart enough to see this, even though you claim that people give your points too much credit. It might be that you haven’t given them enough yourself.  Speak honestly about the trouble points have created in the wine industry. We are not going to get rid of them, they are part of the wine industry love them or not, but help us to work through our addiction to them. Teach us to use this force wisely. We don’t need a Ralph Nader of wine anymore, what we need is a wine lover who shares our passion and their knowledge. That should be you. You should help us to be better as an industry.

Finally you, and now the rest of the world can see Pancho has corrupted your ethics policy. No one thinks he didn’t. Move on. Don’t try to make excuses, just admit this mistake, you are human after all. We love to forgive mistakes, not snide dismissals. We want to be your advocate.

So I guess I just want to say in the end. Can we all get back to drinking wine? There were no laws broken. So what if the magazine we all like to make fun of just got caught with a bit of pie on their face(or was the pommace?). Shit happens. The only ones with their panties in a bunch are a whole lot of wine journos’ who, myself included, are a bit jealous that an outsider walked into our closed garden and sucked out a ****load of money from it. Spanish wine still is suffering from a lack of support. Let’s work as a group to show them the light, a new way, a new future; hopefully without pay for points deals happening seedy back alleys.

Ok, I’m going to open something red, or maybe white, but definitely wet; and the only point I’m going to attach to it is the end of a corkscrew.



PS: Jim, before you comment, I know that Pancho has alleged crimes in Dubai, which may or may not be criminal. I really don’t care. When I say no laws were broken in the post, I mean within the wine industry. Which, and correct me if I’m wrong, they were not. Oh and we’re definitely getting together the next time I’m in London! 🙂

Catavino, where we build custom tours in Portugal and tours in Spain. Contact us if you are interested in learning more! We'd love to make your dream trip a reality.

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