Doyen of Israeli wine serves up his own obit

By Nathan Jeffay, September 15, 2011
Rogov, "the voice of Israel's wine renaissance"

Rogov, "the voice of Israel's wine renaissance"

Daniel Rogov, the critic who put Israeli wine on the world map, has died - and broken the news to the world with a post entitled "Rogov Obit", which was programmed to appear on his online forum after his passing.

Mr Rogov, who was in his 70s, wrote in the post that he came to think of himself "as the Umberto Eco of wine and culinary criticism". His note, like all of his articles, was written in English.

An American immigrant, Mr Rogov exerted his remarkable effect on the country's food and wine scene in translation, writing in English and leaving it to translators to present his thoughts to his local audience.

In Israel, many a shopper can be seen at the wine section consulting Mr Rogov's books or clippings of his regular columns for Ha'aretz. He was the writer who articulated the wine revolution that has taken place over the past 20 years, as Israeli wineries shook off old stigmas and started to produce fine wines. He caused Israelis to take pride and international critics to take notice.

"He was the voice of the renaissance in Israeli wine," said friend Adam Montefiore, development director of the Carmel Winery. Mr Rogov contributed to the world's most respected wine guides, including Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book and the Wine Report by British critic Tom Stevenson.

Mr Rogov was an icon for observant Jewish wine lovers, who regard the annual Rogov's Guide to World Kosher Wines as something of a bible. There was a certain irony to this. He was not only a wine critic but also a restaurant and food writer, who, to the chagrin of Orthodox Israelis, gave much emphasis to non-kosher meats. He wrote in Ha'aretz last year: "Alas, truly fine American or English bacon has not made its way here."

Despite his massive public persona, he was intensely private and little is known of his personal life. He is survived by his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Libby.

Last updated: 1:42pm, September 15 2011