It was years ago, at a wine tasting on the Golan Heights, an inn high on a rocky peak. "Let's go out and get a breath of fresh air," Daniel Rogov said to me - meaning, as usual, let's go smoke a cigarette. Before us spread a spectacular landscape, hills and valleys; behind us were several excellent white wines, and inside some promising reds awaited us. "What a lousy profession we have," he pretended to sigh, as a sly smile danced with pleasure on his lips.
How many physical pleasures does a person really have in his life? Daniel Rogov knew how to describe and appreciate two of them professionally and intimately: food and alcohol. A properly roasted cut of meat, a fine wine, a glass of cold beer, Cognac warmed between the palms of his hands - he endowed each of these with additional meaning in his writing, locating them within a broad culinary culture, transforming them into a story that aroused the appetite.
When he began writing for Haaretz in the mid 1980s, the phenomena of creative chefs' restaurants and, especially, the making of fine wines were just beginning here. His local professional reputation developed together with them and his status as a critic grew along with the Israeli public's interest. The somewhat forgiving attitude he evinced in those first years subsequently became unnecessary, and he allowed himself to be precise and emphatic in his evaluations of the wineries' achievements or failures as their numbers swelled like grape clusters after rain.
With time, he became the most influential wine critic in Israel. The wine revolution that took place here in the past two decades has led the industry to impressive international achievements and, equally importantly, many thousands of Israelis have become wine lovers, thirsty for knowledge and, in many cases, for a guiding hand. His review columns provided both of these and thanks to their high professional level, they became a kind of compass for winemakers and winery people.
His "Rogov's Guide to Israeli Wines" was without a doubt the best and most comprehensive guide to local wines. The personal, private David was a kind of classical bourgeois, complex, rich and always somewhat mysterious. He was not a man of personal details, he was a man of stories. Many of those who knew him well for many years cannot supply a coherent biography of him. However, they have a pleasurably abundant supply of experiences, tastes, aromas and anecdotes about him.
We drank countless wines together. Henceforth I will drink to his memory.
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