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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, September 10 2009. 16:35

Blog: Did Decanter Canter on de Campo News

I was startled to read in Decanter last week the news about Pancho Campo MW, President of the Spanish Wine Academy and Director of the prestigious Wine Future Rioja conference in mid-November being the subject of an arrest warrant on the Interpol website.

The warrant, issued in Dubai relates to an alleged fraud of €600,000 in that country for which a court case was initiated against him in 2002 by his then business partner. He was due to appear in the court in 2005 but did not attend the court as he had left the country in Dubai in 2003.

Campo ran a company called Connections Sports and Music in Dubai from 1999 to 2002 in partnership with one Jackie Wartanian who is now the MD of the company.

Was it proper for Decanter to give a ‘Headline News’ sort of a report on the net, or did Decanter really canter lest someone else break the news before them, to stay ahead of media reporting without caring about the possible damage of reputation to Pancho is my question? I think they did.

I have known Pancho Campo for a few years primarily because Indian Wine Academy has similar objectives to The Wine Academy of Spain which he founded with his wife Melissa (I think he told me she is American). I have met him a few times in various forums in Spain and have also attended one of his seminars on Climate Control he conducted in Valencia during the first edition of Vino-elite Wine Show in which a big group of Masters of Wines visiting from UK were present too. He admitted then that one of his objectives was to use this platform for getting his MW title. This he did last year and became the first Spaniard to achieve the coveted title.

He also conducted the highly publicized Wine and Climate Change Conference last February, in which the former Vice President of US, Al Gore had promised to appear but got busy after getting the Noble Prize in the meantime and however, did make a speech through the video link.

When I talked to my friend Robert Joseph whom I met in Germany last week where both of us were judging at MundusVini, he told me he knew about it before the report came out in Decanter. Apparently, Campo had taken the precaution of informing him and all the other celebrity speakers at the forthcoming ‘Wine Future’ conference which takes place in Rioja in November, with international wine critics and writers including Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson MW, Oz Clarke and Robert Joseph have agreed to speak.

When I asked Robert whether Decanter should have published the news report, he was clearly in the affirmative. ‘This is news and seems to have been reported accurately by them. They ought to report about it. After all, there is a very important conference ahead for which maybe 400 people have registered. What if one goes there and does not find him or the conference? After all, if you find a winery in Nashik mixing chemicals in the wine would you not report in delWine? It would be wrong if you did not.’ 

To me this is clearly a western viewpoint. Firstly, the alleged case has nothing to do with wine, Spanish Wine Academy or the Rioja Future. The alleged fraud was committed in 2002 for a non wine-related activity and Campo claims he left the country in 2003 after informing the Dubai Police about his return and sorting out the accounts. The non-appearance in court was in 2005. It took 4 years by his ex-partner who is a resident in Dubai and by any account could be considered influential, even if it is because of his continued presence!

Then there is the question of personal reputation of an individual. It is not only in Bollywood that the issue is raised of a person wrongfully arrested and tried for murder but released as innocent man  after the trial but the stigma remaining in public memory for a long period. Would it not affect his reputation in the long run-even if he were found to be liable and actually was liable and ends up paying the amount or the damages?

Campo has been reportedly able to get the contract to organise the next edition of Vinoble- the sweet wines and sherry show held in Jerez every two years. Would there be any negative waves created for the first Spanish man to have achieved the wine ‘ gold medal’ –the MW?

Robert had no satisfactory answer to that question. Fortunately, Campo seems to have enough countrymen speak in his favour and there is a general support from various sections according to the article. Unfortunately the protagonist, Mr. Wartanian could not be contacted by Decanter. Was it a case of his not wanting to be contacted?

Although I am convinced that his intentions were to put Campo on the mat – possibly to recover the money, Decanter ought to have used restraint and the least they should do now is to carry the story to its logical conclusion by digging a bit further into the facts.

After all, looking beyond the conference and the business animosities, an important wine personality’s reputation might be possibly tarnished, thanks to Decanter who chose to canter without gathering all the relevant facts.

Subhash Arora

 For our earlier article about the Rioja Futures, click 



Jim Budd Says:

‘Decanter who chose to canter without gathering all the relevant facts.’ Subhash- as a co-author of the Decanter news story I completely reject the suggestion that we rushed out the story. I became aware of the red notice on the Interpol site on Monday 31st August. Adam Lechmere and I worked on the story during the week – trying to check details, which included speaking to Pancho Campo and his lawyer. The story wasn’t published until the morning of Friday 4th September.

For a news story this is certainly not a canter more a slow walk. I came to the same conclusion as Robert Joseph that this is a valid news story. There is undoubtedly a red notice on Interpol concerning a warrant for Pancho Campo’s arrest for fraud issued in Dubai and he is organising a high profile conference in November involving many of the wine world’s luminaries.

I have never met Pancho and I have no idea where the truth lies. We have tried on several occasions without success to contact Jackie Wartanian, who filed the complaint and whose company is called Center Stage Management using the same initials but a slightly different logo from bankrupt Connections Sports and Music. By the way Jackie Wartanian is a woman. She is Armenian and runs CSM with her sister, Lara Teperdjian Incidentally it seems likely that the red notice was posted on the Interpol site in April 2008. You say ‘the alleged case has nothing to do with wine’. True the subject is different but the alleged fraud also concerned the organisation of an event – probably a concert featuring Enrique Iglesias at the Aviation Club, Dubai on Sunday 1st October 2000 – not very different from organising an international conference in Rioja.

You accuse us of running the story ‘without gathering all the relevant facts’. Subhash that is often the nature of news – history is written once you have all the facts. However, we made every effort to find out as much as we could before running the story. We sought to write a balanced story and gave prominence to statements from both Pancho and his lawyer, Alfonso Martinez. Given the constraints of not being able to speak to all of the parties, in particular, Wartanian. I think we succeeded. Indeed Melissa Campo told me that we had posted ‘a balanced story’. I’m happy to record that my phone conversations with Pancho and his lawyer were cordial and that Pancho invited me to phone him as soon as he received the email I sent to him late on Monday night.

I do think that when Pancho became aware of the red notice and people started asking questions that he would have been wise to have issued a statement, probably along the lines of the letter that has now been sent to members of Institute of Masters of Wine. ‘The least they should do now is to carry the story to its logical conclusion by digging a bit further into the facts.’

Subhash I can assure you that we are continuing to investigate and still hope that it will be possible to contact Jackie Wartanian and, among other things, hopefully be able to find out more about what caused the collapse of Connections Sports and Music as well as the truth behind the arrest warrant. It is a pity that you didn’t take the time to contact me before posting. Had you done so I could have provided you with information that would have made your comment better informed.

Posted @ September 11, 2009 23:18




Robert Joseph Says:

After talking to Pancho Campo today, and reading this blog, I feel I should offer a few words of response. I stand by my reply to the question of whether Decanter was right to cover the existence of an Interpol arrest warrant. After hearing from Sancho Campo, I was under the impression that the warrant existed - however questionable its justification. I now understand from Pancho Campo that no warrant for Mr Campo's arrest had in fact been issued. If this was the case, Decanter would obviously have been entirely wrong to publish. And should, when the facts are established, publish a correction.

In any case, I share Subhash Arora's suspicion of the Dubai authorities and, like other fellow speakers at Pancho Campo's Wine Future event, decided to offer him my full support. I would however, differ strongly with Subhash in believing that a person's reputation should justify a decision not to publish a news item about an alleged misdeed. There have been far too many recent dramatic falls from grace to allow any such reticence.

I also question the suggestion that a serious news editor of a wine magazine should ignore alleged misdeeds that are not associated with wine. Just as I questioned the belief in the 1980s by some wine writers that they could write about South African wines without mentioning anti-apartheid sanctions that kept those bottles out of some countries.

So, in brief: until I am given a very convincing reason to stop doing so, I support Pancho Campo wholeheartedly. But I also support serious wine journalists' right to publish factually accurate reports about the alleged misbehaviour of members of the wine world.

Posted @ September 11, 2009 19:39


Siobhan Turner Says:

I am relieved and pleased to see such balanced and fair reporting on this matter. Pancho Campo MW is a leader in his field, and has been open about this matter with all those who have dealings with him. It is a very difficult time for him and his family, and it is good to see the wine community supporting him as he has supported it for many years. Siobhan Turner Executive Director Institute of Masters of Wine

Posted @ September 11, 2009 17:18


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