Wine Advocate's Parker defends critic

The publisher of The Wine Advocate said Monday 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 by Robert M. Parker Jr., has been under the shadow of the scandal for the past week, ever 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 Monday on 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 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 long-time critic and and former co-owner of Bin 604 in Harbor East, resigned from The Wine Advocate last week, in the wake of the allegations. 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."

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