Salute to Rogov
It was a very moving evening for the Israeli wine industry. They came together as one to salute Daniel Rogov, who has recently been in ill health. Winemakers and growers, wine journalists and wine lovers, restaurateurs and chefs. They gathered in their hundreds to pay tribute to the legendary wine & food critic, who has bestrode the Israel wine & culinary scene for thirty years.
The idea for the event was the brainwave of Eldad Levy, an importer of Champagne and Austrian wines and wine writer for the food & beverage magazine, Al Hashulchan. He passed the idea onto Tal Gal Cohen, president of Chaines des Rotisseurs and owner of the website www.israelwines.co.il. The event was held in the Dan Panorama, kindly arranged by Haim Spiegel, the overall Food & Beverage Director of the Dan Group.
Meni Peer was the distinguished compere of the evening. He is a famous television personality, a veteran wine writer and editor of Israel's main wine magazine, Wine, Gourmet and Alcohol. Television crews and cameramen added to the atmosphere and sense of occasion.
All the main figures of the Israeli wine industry, past and present, were there to pay their respects. It was said there was never an occasion that so many of Israel's wineries were represented under one roof.
Daniel Rogov began to write on food and wine in Israel in 1982. Eventually he became a 'wine and food critic'. (Note the change in order.) He began with the Jerusalem Post and then moved to the Haaretz newspaper. He is the author of a number of food books, but lately is best known for Rogov's Guide To Israeli Wines and Rogov's Guide To Kosher Wines, both published annually.
He consults for Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book and wrote the section on Israel for Tom Stevenson's Wine Report. He also runs a wine discussion forum, which has an international following. He has charted the wine and culinary revolutions in Israel over the last thirty years. Quite apart from this, he is a much loved personality and a raconteur with a story for every occasion. How much loved, he would find out when he attended the tribute in his honor.
When the lights went down and Daniel Rogov entered the banqueting hall to the sound of Sinatra's 'I did it my way' in the background, everyone stood up to a man. The applause lasted until he reached the table in front of the stage and sat down.
Meni Peer opened the proceedings and gave some brief anecdotes and classic Rogov quotes. He explained that Rogov made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel in 1976 from New York, and that 1976 was a special year for Israeli wine. Peer explained it was the year of the legendary Carmel Special Reserve 1976, which was born as though in his honor. It was also the important year that vineyards were first planted on the Golan Heights.
There were two speakers on behalf of the Israel wine industry, Adam Montefiore and Victor Schoenfeld and two representing the Israeli world of gastronomy, Shalom Maharovsky and Eyal Shani.
First there was a video message made by Jay Buchsbaum, vice president of Royal Wine Corp. He had wanted to fly over, but was kept in America because of Hurricane Irene. It was fitting that the world's largest importer and distributor of kosher wines would send a message to the world's leading critic of kosher wines.
Tal Gal Cohen, the prime organizer, then read out personal messages to Daniel from some of the world's most famous wine writers and critics. This very distinguished list included:
Howard Goldberg of the New York Times, and Decanter.
Hugh Johnson, author of The Wine Atlas, Wine Companion & Pocket Wine Book.
Mark Squires, the Israel specialist of the Wine Advocate.
Tom Stevenson, author of the Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia & editor of The Wine Report.
Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of the Sotheby's Wine Department.
A witty letter from Howard Goldberg referred to Rogov as the 'Israeli Robert Parker,' whereas Tom Stevenson described him as an 'Israeli Hugh Johnson'.
The warmth, respect and how well he is regarded by his international peers, was clearly in evidence from the messages.
Adam Montefiore, wine development director of Carmel Winery, was the first of the main speakers. He told of how he has known Rogov since 1990. He explained Rogov was the first proper wine critic in Israel, who set all the standards. He called him the architect of wine culture in Israel and a great ambassador of Israeli wine worldwide.
Victor Schoenfeld, chief winemaker of the Golan Heights Winery, said that Rogov was the first to develop a proper language for describing wine and reminisced about some of his early meetings with him.
Shalom Maharovsky, owner of the celebrated Mul Yam Restaurant in Tel Aviv, told two anecdotes with characteristic humor centered around Rogov, the personality.
The final guest speaker was the celebrity TV chef, Eyal Shani. He explained how Rogov's use of words helped him understand wine. He explained he learnt a great deal from Rogov and thanked him for it.
Eldad Levy then gave a witty presentation on the subject of Daniel Rogov using existing video footage and a good imagination. This caused a great deal of amusement, especially when Rogov was compared to the food critic in the film 'Ratatouille.'
The final curtain was a video greeting from Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. It was clear that Vaynerchuk greatly respected Rogov. Of course Rogov had appeared on one of his shows in the not too distant past.
After some brief words of thanks from Rogov himself, there was another standing ovation, again to the strains of 'My Way'. Then the principals of the Israeli wine world lined up, like at the entrance to a wedding, to hug, kiss and convey the love and affection they felt for a very special man.
Thank you Daniel Rogov for all you have done for Israeli wine and food. Thank you for being the great personality you are. You have had a great effect on the Israeli wine industry in particular and your knowledge, love of wine and humor has touched wine lovers everywhere! Wines-israel.com salutes you!