Veteran writer to cover NW wine

One of the world's most influential wine critics has assigned a new writer to cover Washington and Oregon.

Robert Parker, who owns The Wine Advocate in Maryland, announced Monday that David Schildknecht will now review and write about the Northwest. Schildknecht replaces Jay Miller, who wrote about Washington and Oregon for the past five years.

Miller's departure from The Wine Advocate comes amid controversy. Last week, blogger Jim Budd asserted that Spanish wine expert Pancho Campo tried to charge 20,000 euros to have Miller taste Madrid wines for two days during a visit last summer. The blogger cited emails he obtained.

Parker responded by saying he investigated the allegations and found no truth to them. On Monday, he announced that Miller would be leaving The Wine Advocate, a decision Miller made earlier this year.

Schildknecht has a long career in the wine industry, which includes 16 years as a retailer in Washington, D.C., and the Midwest. For many years, he contributed to Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, a newsletter, writing about wines in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and California.

He began working full time for The Wine Advocate in 2005, writing about German, Austrian, Eastern European and Alsatian wines.

Ryan Pennington, public relations director for the Washington Wine Commission in Seattle, said he looks forward to working with Schildknecht.

"We will certainly be reaching out and offering our assistance and resources to whatever extent he wants to use them," Pennington said. "Given his experience with German and Austrian wines, it would suggest he has a palate well tuned to the elegant side. I am curious what his reaction will be to Washington wines."

Schildknecht said in an email that he looks forward to learning more about the Washington wine industry, which he admits he knows little about, having never visited the Columbia Valley.

"But then, there had to be a first time for visiting any of the many regions of the world about which I have written over the years," he said. "If you ask growers who know me in Austria, Germany, France, California, the eastern U.S. and a few other wine regions of the world, I think most of them will tell you that I am a quick study ... and capable of offering some original insights."

Schildknecht said he is keen to explore all Washington wines, especially Rieslings, the state's No. 1 grape.

"The best thing for Washington Riesling is to express a distinctively delicious identity," he said. "That said, I do believe that there are few more profoundly delicious wines on Earth from any cépage ('grape variety') than the top Rieslings of Alsace, Austria and Germany."