Two years ago Israel’s best-known wine critic Daniel Rogov passed away. In 2005 Rogov, who was Ha’Aretz newspaper’s restaurant and wine critic, wrote his first Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines. This comprehensive guidebook to Israeli wines was based on Rogov’s tastings of wine at the wineries. By visiting each of the wineries he wrote about, Rogov was able to include barrel tasting of wines not yet released as well as wines ready for the market. Daniel Rogov was the first wine writer to use a 100-point scale in rating Israeli wines. His scores are still proudly quoted by the wineries who achieved above 90 points.
Daniel Rogov’s guidebook was subsequently released annually, getting thicker each year as the number of wineries included in the guidebook increased with the growth in the Israeli wine industry. The 2012 edition of Rogov’s book was published as the Ultimate Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines as it was the last edition published.
Following the untimely death of Daniel Rogov, wine enthusiasts interested in Israeli wines had to work hard to learn about new wines. This task was even more daunting for the English speaker since most of the articles written about Israeli wine appear in Hebrew.
No new guidebooks were written about Israeli wines although Eliezer Sachs released an updated version of The Wine Route of Israel and a new map of the wineries. Sachs’ book is essentially about the wineries and the people associated with the wineries-owners and winemakers. Israeli wines are not rated in The Wine Route of Israel.
Understanding the void left by Rogov’s untimely departure, two Israeli wine professionals took upon themselves to produce a new guide to Israeli wines. Yair Gath, who writes about wine in the Israeli daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom and Gal Zohar, sommelier, IWC judge and wine consultant. Gath and Zohar’s New Israeli Wine Guide will hopefully fill the gap left with the loss of Rogov while being very different in its orientation and the way wines are judged.
First of all, for now The New Israeli Wine Guide will not appear as a printed book. Rather it will be published as an e-book. While the guide will be published in both Hebrew and English, the focus is on foreign markets with an emphasis on kosher wines. Unfortunately, until Israeli wines find themselves on geographic display in wine shops outside of Israel (maybe Eastern Mediterranean Wines?) they are usually found on in the kosher wine section. This is due to the fact that the major market for Israeli wines overseas is still the Jewish market, particularly in the US. For those of us in Israel who fervently believe in the quality of Israeli wines, we continue to hope that Israeli wines will break through the stigmas of sweet sacramental wine, something that characterized Israeli wines until the wine revolution of the 1980’s.
The biggest innovation of Gath and Zohar’s new book is that the scores were all given in blind tastings. Rogov scored his wines knowing exactly what he was drinking and his affinity for people and wineries were worth extra points. The lack of bias in the blind tasting is clearly shown in the relatively low scores given to the top 20 Israeli wines in the preview edition of the New Israeli Wine Guide. The scores are all in the 87-90 range.
Yair Gath with Ha’aretz food writer Ronit Vered revealing wines after blind tasting
You can receive a free copy of the preview edition of the New Israeli Wine Guide by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can keep up to date with the release of the New Israeli Wine Guide on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NewIsraeliWineGuide.