Preluding the great Spanish wine misselling scandal?

Pass the Don Simón.

Edward Linley Sambourne: Phylloxera, a true gourmet, finds out the best vineyards and attaches itself to the best wines.

Edward Linley Sambourne: Phylloxera, a true gourmet, finds out the best vineyards and attaches itself to the best wines. Image: Punch, 6/9/1890.

A couple of years ago I noted what I felt was a spectacularly poor correlation between wine price/reputation and quality, without suggesting the conclusions to which sick minds would tend – the corruption of buyers, writers, etc. I’ve never read wine reviewers because the notion that folk on a journalist/blogger’s income could afford to acquire large quantities of non-bargain plonk without supply-side assistance in kind or cash struck me as curious. But I’d never come across a smoking gun.

Now a delicious affair has arisen, with Jim Budd and Harold Heckle outing, in a piece called Campogate: No Pay – No Jay (more), Spanish agent Pancho Campo for touting visits and tastings by a minion of Robert Parker’s Flying Circus, Jay Miller, in failing DO regions at a daily tariff of €10-20K. (There’s a nice photo of the pair here.) There is no proof that Miller took money for said activities on Wine Advocate business, but Dr Vino demonstrated (follow-up, WSJ article) a while back that the guy doesn’t seem worried about sailing close to the wind, and that RPFC seems to be prepared to put up with it.

Chinese walls have a mixed record, and a complete split between advising consumers and promoting businesses might be hard to achieve, but it would be good to see writers who claim to be independent adopt Warren Edwardes’ suggestion of a public register of interests. Whatever, until something changes I still reckon that you may be better off with Don Simón or bodega generic than some of the oaked-up donkey piss outlets like Eroski-Caprabo and some publications try to unload on you.

BTW, while we’re abolishing the European Union, can we make a few more civil servants redundant and dump the completely deranged DO system? Governments are stopping doling out stars to flophouses, so why should wine be any different?

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  1. But the DO system seems to help with exports, which are very welcome at the moment.

    Don Simon’s probably OK for every day. I find that it, and its bodega generic counterparts, can be rather sweet and altogether too lip-staining for regular use. I can get really good Priorat for about €5.00 a bottle, which is acceptable. The key seems to be: don’t go to Caprabo/don’t live in Gràcia.

  2. I find that a stomach catheter gives quite good results.

    I wonder whether people in Islington can really distinguish between DO Madrid and Murcia, though. Also vague memories of British supermarket shelves suggest to me that the DO information is either removed or not prominent – though maybe I’m looking at the Don Simón-substitute bit.

  3. Try “Garnacha Mítica”, selling at 1.5 EUR in Mercadona. Straightforward garnacha, from Campo de Borja.

  4. I will get on my bike tomorrow and investigate – they list
    but I’ll be deeply offended if they say Garnacha Mítica is a theme park. It may well be my brother-in-law’s favourite brew – he’s from around those parts – so this may change my life.

  5. OK I take this as a challenge. Find the cheapest, genuinely drinkable Spanish red. In a glass bottle. I will report back to you in… a few days or weeks.

  6. If the brother-in-law can fix us up with a lamb then I sense a barbecue opportunity. Welcome to the Budget Wine Blog.

  7. What the hell, I’d be going with the catheter.

    Meanwhile and in lack of medical assistance, to my left hand “Viña la higuera” straight to the hígado.

    Those are the times.

  8. You’re all right – you’ve retired, mission accomplished, and can now watch, glass in hand, as everything you battled against crumbles.

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