About Me

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Dublin, Ireland
Hi, I'm a Master of Wine (MW) having passed in 1997. I am about to open a wine shop in DĂșn Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library and this is my wine blog. There should be no conflict of interest between my work with The Wine Library and the opinions expressed herein but I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy. From June 2013 until May 2017 I was the Retail Manager for The Wicklow Wine Company. I was a member of the Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events, Trips and Governance Committees Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who pays?

For a variety of reasons I think it might be worthwhile to set out all the wine trips I've ever done in my life and to clearly indicate who paid for these trips. This is prompted by some recent articles on other blogs (Jancis Robinson MW recently posted an article about this, as did Tim Atkin MW, Jancis's post was triggered in part by Tyler Coleman's post in relation to the ethical policy of The Wine Advocate); it's worth pointing out that I rarely publish any wine reviews so I trust that my independence in that regard can be taken for granted.
In July 1992 I first visited a wine region (bizarre when you consider I had just finished WSET Diploma that June!) when I went to Rioja with some friends. We visited La Rioja Alta, Marques de Riscal (back in the days before fabulous new buildings went up) and CVNE. All paid for by myself.
In October 1992 I visited Jerez, having won the Sherry Scholarship in my Diploma examination of 1991; paid for by Wines of Spain and the Sherry producers, although earned by hard work!

In February 1993, as an MW student, I visited Chablis and Champagne on a great 2 day trip, again self-funded. In June 1993, as part of my researches in relation to my MW Dissertation I visited the Mosel and Burgundy; I revisited the Mosel in September that year and again in December that year - all self-funded.

In November 1994 I had to submit a new Dissertation and so visited Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhone, all self-funded.

In April 1996 I visited Lebanon, with the scale of visits heavily curtailed by the activities of the Israeli Airforce, self-funded. Later that year, in June, I visited the Loire and Bordeaux with two friends from a wine club who wanted a good wine-related holiday. They paid travel and accommodation and we shared costs while there. This was an excellent trip - dinner with the Cointreau family of Cognac Frapin and Champagne Gosset, visits to Florent Baumard, Huet and Pascal Jolivet in the Loire, visits to Latour (hosted by Frederic Engerer), Lafite, Margaux (hosted and shown around by Paul Pontaillier), Mouton, Lynch-Bages, Pichon-Comtesse, Langoa Barton (where Anthony Barton was a very charming host), Yqeum and Climens, Cheval Blanc and Vieux Chateau-Certan, where Alexandre Thienpont was very welcoming.

In September 1998 I was inaugurated into the Istitut del Vins de Cava y Penedes (officially I am a Cavallero!) - funded by the Istitut. In October 1998 I visited South Africa for the first time for Richard Kelley MW's wedding to the gorgeous Rebekah Knight; self-funded.

In April 1999 I took part in my first MW trip - the West Coast of the USA. Although all such trips are part-funded by various local bodies, MWs still pick up a substantial tab - this one cost me IEP2,000 at the time! Later that year I visited Burgundy with my good South African friend, Fran Botha, which included the opportunity to visit and taste at La Domaine de la Romanee Conti - self-funded.

In March 2000, I visited South Africa  again to help Richard Kelley MW with an MW student seminar - self-funded. That July, Wines of Spain sent a number of highly influential Irish journalists on a trip to Spain and somehow I sneaked in! Funded by Wines of Spain. In October 2000 we had an MW trip to Portugal - as always I had to partially pay my way.

March 2001 I visited the Rhone for the Decouvertes, self-funded, followed by a visit to Bordeaux for the IMW Student Seminar, self-funded. April 2001 was the MW trip to Australia, a fantastic visit, again partially self-funded, about IEP1,900 as I recall. November 2001 was an MW mini-trip to the Languedoc, partially self-funded.

March 2002 another IMW Student Seminar in Bordeaux, again self-funded. Two trips to Germany followed, one at the expense of Meininger Verlag as I was judging at Mundus Vini, the second an MW trip, again partially self-funded.

March 2003 was a self-funded trip to the Rhone, for the Decouvertes, followed in August by a visit to South Africa to judge at Michelangelo - paid for by Michelangelo. This was followed by another trip for Mundus Vini, paid for by Meininger.

2004 saw another visit to Mundus Vini expenses paid, followed by an MW trip to South Africa, partially self-funded.

One trip in 2005, a self-funded visit to the Rhone for the Decouvertes.

2006 saw a self-funded visit to CAlifornia for the IMW Lateral Vision Symposium.

2007 saw expenses paid trips to Bordeaux (judging at Les Citadelles du Vin), and South Africa (judging at Michelangelo) with an MW trip to Geisenheim, partially self-funded.

2008 was a busy year; in April an expenses paid trip to Singapore (judging at Food Hotel Asia), June had a self-funded trip to Rust, in Austria, for the inaugural European Association of Wine Educators conference, August an expenses paid trip to Mundus Vini and November an expenses paid trip to Chile, courtesy of Wines of Chile.

2009 had only one trip - but what a trip! - the expenses paid trip to Australia for Landmark, paid for by Wine Australia.

2010 saw a return to Bordeaux for the IMW Student Seminar, nowadays funded by IMW! In May a visit to Vienna for Vie Vinum, flights paid for by myself, accommodation by the Austrian Wine Marketing Bureau. June saw an expenses paid trip to Chile, courtesy of Brandabout followed by a self-funded visit to Bordeaux for the IMW Forging Links symposium. In August an expenses paid visit to Mundus Vini while in October a self-funded visit to California.

In 2011 just the one visit, to South Africa as a judge at Michelangelo, expenses paid.

In 2012 I lectured at the luxurious Palais Coburg in Vienna, all I am very happy to say at the hotel's expense - life can be very good at times. In March 2013 I had the same honour again, also at the hotel's expense.

In 2014, I visited ProWein on behalf of the Wicklow Wine Company, Florence for the Institute of Masters of Wine Symposium (my expense), then Michelangelo in South Africa, their expense.

In 2015, London (self-funded) for the Australia Day Tasting, ProWein again (WWC expense), and Australia (IMW trip, self-funded). In 2016, ProWein and Alimentaria Barcelona (WWC expense), as well as two trips to London for IMW tastings - the pre-AGM Australian Chardonnay Tasting and the Minerality Seminar. Also in 2016 a trip to Belgium and Holland teaching WSET Diploma - funded by WineWise.

In 2017 I went again to London for the Australia Day Tasting and then ProWein, both self-funded.

I have only ever received samples of wine to taste twice, and don't usually make any pronouncements about such wines as I dislike any potential conflict of interest. Many of my students will, I hope, recall my informing them when I am recommending any producer which is also a sponsor of IMW; it is worth noting that in at least one of my posts I have pointed out that I do not believe the marketing spiel of at least one IMW sponsor!

This may well be an unnecessary post, but it's something I felt I should do. I hope it's fairly clear that my wine education has, by and large, been self-funded and that the opinions I express are based on independent experience, that I do not feel I have to support any country, company or person simply because they have paid for a trip for me - if so, then I'm happy. If anyone feels otherwise, I'd be interested to hear from you.

2 comments:

firstpress said...

I have no problems seeing trips paid for if the intention is to further knowledge and education. If a wine from that trip is in some way reviewed and has the potential to influence a sale then the conflict should always be mentioned. If the purpose of the trip is to review wines, or indeed a region, then the conflict if it exists must always be mentioned also. If a reviewer is being paid regularly for other work within the wine trade, be they generic bodies or indeed commercial entities, then it is wholly unsatisfactory that the reader is not made ware of the potential conflict of interest. A simple Code of Ethics and interested editors would quickly sort this sort of nonsense out and where it exists it needs to be exposed. The result of R Parker's litigation may well set a new benchmark re whistle blowing. One hopes that it will not be at the expanse of the whistles.

DermotMW said...

In general, due to my work as an educator, the trips I take are done in order to further my knowledge and understanding. As far as I am aware I make it clear, either when posting or when teaching, if there is any likely interest, especially where a wine or product is a Supporter of the IMW.