Ifirst met Daniel Rogov in 1990 when he was writing for The Jerusalem Post. In
those days I considered him primarily a food writer rather than a critic, and
his writing was full of anecdotal, historical references. In a way, he was
showing Israelis that food and wine were not subjects that entailed just eating
and drinking but that they could be discussed, talked about and debated. It was,
in a sense, an introduction to European-style culinary culture and
Gradually he evolved from being a food writer to being a
critic. He became the leading restaurant critic in the country, exhibiting
professionalism, knowledge, curiosity and passion. He was not just interested in
the food at a given restaurant but also in the ambiance, the background and
vision of the chef and the quality of the service. And, all the while, he was
educating Israelis about the total restaurant experience.
became more a wine critic. He brought the scoring system of 100 points to Israel
and kept a massive database of wine scores, which he managed to maintain, even
as the number of wineries and wines grew year by year.
He set high
international standards for Israeli wine. However, when the wineries started
producing what he considered international and world-class wines, Rogov was
quick to reward them with high scores. Sometimes he was criticized for giving
too-high scores, but he was a patriot as well as a critic and was biased in
favor of his own country.
As Israel began to gain international
third-party credit for the quality of its wines, so Rogov’s stock
He became a brand as important as any in the wine industry and was
credited abroad as being the voice of the Israeli wine renaissance.
also wrote several books. Initially they were about food and then later focused
on wine. Some foodies may remember the fun, irreverent The Rogue’s Guide to
, among others. His last book on food was Rogov at his best:
Rogues, Writers & Whores: Dining with the Rich & Infamous
. This was a
gastronomic commentary on the opulent and outrageous by the master
It was his wine books that earned Rogov international fame.
Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines
was first published in the autumn of 2004. This
book has reappeared annually seven times. I have found it abroad in the most
unlikely places, often representing Israel where Israeli wines were not on the
shelves of local wine shops. As such, he became a wonderful and effective wine
ambassador for Israeli wines.
He diligently visited the large, medium and
small wineries every year without fail. When he visited wineries, the comments
about the coffee could be as biting as the reviews of wine. The person changing
ashtrays was likely to be the busiest person. However, tastings were conducted
in silence, the winemaker was listened to without interruption, and Rogov would
write notes in tiny scrawl that only he could decipher. He was bringing the
standards of the international wine critic to Israel.
Rogov had a
guru-like following among his readers. I remember hosting Californian winemaker
Robert Mondavi with Rogov at the Tapuah Zahav restaurant in Tel Aviv in 1995. At
the next table we watched a man unfold a grubby, torn copy of a newspaper
He then ordered the exact meal that Rogov had reviewed. Even on
a recent visit to my local supermarket, I saw someone with Rogov’s Guide to
in hand, checking reviews as he perused the wine
In the early years, Rogov was chastised by Jerusalem Post
readers for reviewing non-kosher restaurants. He would argue
that restaurant reviews for an international newspaper had to cover all views
and tastes. Yet ironically, his Wine Discussion Forum gradually became the
province of kosher wine drinkers from all over the world, who regarded him with
the reverence of a hassidic wine rebbe.
Daniel Rogov was charming in an
oldworld sort of way but always charismatic.
Even the most casual
conversation was intellectually stimulating, entertaining and informative.
Poised with the everpresent cigarette in one hand and a cup of strong coffee in
the other, he would relish a discussion or debate and would always be ready with
a story to cover any situation. He was a raconteur par excellence, and he only
needed an audience of one to perform.
Within Israel, Rogov set new
standards for wine and culinary discourse. His writing created the new
aspirational standards, his reviews were a commentary on the progress, and then
he faithfully reflected the wine and culinary revolutions that took
Rogov’s real name was David Joroff. In essence he was quiet,
extraordinarily private and quite humble individual. I always felt privileged to
be able to call him David.
The public persona of Daniel Rogov was his
alter ego. Daniel Rogov was a giant who will be remembered as an integral part
of the wine and food revolutions in Israel. As for David, the person and friend,
I miss him terribly.Adam Montefiore works for the Carmel Winery. He regularly writes about wine in
international and Israeli publications.
email@example.comWine of the Week
Chillag Vivo Cabernet 2007 is made from 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15%
Merlot from Kerem Ben-Zimra in the Galilee. It was aged in oak barrels for 14
months. It is deep purple in color, with red berry aromas and a backdrop of
ground coffee and vanilla.
Chillag is a boutique winery situated in
Yehud, near Tel Aviv. It is owned by Orna Chillag, one of the country’s most
prominent female winemakers, who trained in Italy.
Primo, Solo and Vivo, reflect the Italian connection.