The publisher of The Wine Advocate said this month that he had embarked on a no-holds-barred investigation into an alleged payola scandal involving one of the publication's top critics.
The Wine Advocate, an influential journal run out of Baltimore County, Md., by Robert M. Parker Jr., has been under the shadow of scandal since a London blogger alleged that Baltimore reviewer Jay Miller and his representative in Spain asked wineries for money in exchange for a visit from Miller.
Parker has stood behind Miller and posted a statement on http://www.erobertparker.com that said in part, "In light of allegations and innuendoes posted by various Internet blogs concerning visits made to Murcia, Spain, by Jay Miller ... The Wine Advocate has engaged the law firm of Cozen O'Connor to conduct an investigation to determine whether our strict policy of independence in the review and tasting of wines for publication in The Wine Advocate or posting on eRobertparker.com was compromised.
"Rather than reaching premature conclusions and making statements based upon snippets of emails and an excerpt of documents without the benefit of all available facts, we have placed no limitation on Cozen O'Connor's efforts to seek information from whatever sources whom they identify as appropriate for a thorough investigation."
Miller, a longtime critic and former co-owner of Bin 604 in Baltimore, resigned from The Wine Advocate. But Parker said in his statement that Miller's resignation "has absolutely nothing to do with these allegations. We thank Jay for his contribution and dedication to The Wine Advocate and continue to wish him good luck in his future endeavors."