The editor of Germany’s most famous wine tasting guide, Gault Millau, has resigned following a letter signed by 14 top winemakers calling for the boycott of the magazine.

The controversy began on 30 June, when the German winemakers sent an open letter to Gault Millau publisher Christian Verlag, indicating that they would not send samples to be tasted for the review because they objected to the publisher’s new ‘optional donation’ of €195 for the tasting.

‘It would not have mattered if what they asked for was €5 or €195; what matters is the principle. It left us with a strange feeling,’ said Helmut Dönnhoff of the Dönnhoff winery, who co-signed the letter.

Dönnhoff told decanter.com that the problem was that they specifically asked for money ‘before the tasting’.

‘I am not saying that the tastings would have necessarily favoured those who did pay, but that perception was raised, for those who would have paid. It would have been fine had they asked for money after publishing.’

The chief editor, Armin Diel, resigned this month because the ‘whole issue made me feel uncomfortable,’ he said.

He has resigned as editor and publisher of both the magazine and the wine guide. His partner Joel B Payne will continue to be responsible as publisher and editor.

Diel defended the decision for the optional donation.

‘They could have used the Gault Millau logo, the texts for advertising and three copies of the book [€29 store price], easily worth the €195,’ he said.

‘The wine judgments are independent, regardless if winemakers paid or not,’ he added.

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Written by Panos Kakaviatos