I f you're going to drink Israeli wines you need Rogov's Guide. This compact 280 page hardback book describes and rates over 100 Israeli wineries and more than 1000 wines.
Daniel Rogov - known to all as Rogov - is wine and food columnist for Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper, correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, contributor to Hugh Johnson's annual Pocket Wine Book and Tom Stephenson's Wine Report.
Wines from 1983 to 2003 vintages plus those due to be released over the next nine months are described with precise tasting notes. Wines are awarded points on the 100 point system and because Rogov tastes the worlds wines, are marked to a consistent international level. Those that do not come up to scratch get no mercy. About a Cabernet-Merlot blush wine he says "Pale pink turning to brown in colour, the wine is far too acidic and calls to mind pink grapefruit juice more than it does wine. Score 60". A 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon is "Weedy and acidic, with aromas that call to mind a cow shed rather than fresh country air; the wine is too tannic and its fruits are hardly felt. Drink up. Score 75."
Wineries are rather confusingly divided into three groups - large, medium & small -and listed alphabetically within those categories. Each winery has a brief description and is rated from 1 star - 'hard to recommend' to 5 stars - world class winery, and their wines described. Kosher wines - those with a kashrut certificate from a recognised rabbinic authority - are identified. A particularly attractive feature of this book is the full colour label illustrations that decorate most entries.
Rogov introduces the book with a history of wine in Israel from biblical times through the winery revolution of the 1970's that was the foundation of today's world class wines, up to the current wine industry successes and the excellent 2003 vintage. There's a description of grape varieties grown in Israel and their potential, a vintage guide and description of how he tastes, rates and marks wines.
He asserts that 'there is no contradiction between making fine wine and the kosher laws', describes the rules governing the making of kosher wine and discusses drinking habits within Israel and the wider Jewish community. However the book excludes wines made purely for sacramental purposes as not likely to interest a wine drinker.
In future editions I would like to see wine region maps and winery visiting information.
Rogov is convinced Israeli wines have reached a tipping point where they will be recognised as, albeit niche interest, quality wines on their own merit and move from the kosher shelf to join the rest of the world's wines. This guide will be in even greater demand when that happens; in the meantime it is essential for wine lovers at the kosher shelf, or living in, or travelling to, Israel.
Rogov's Guide |
To Israeli Wines 2005
The Toby Press
$14.95 - US
£9.95 - UK
€18 - Europe
₪99 - Israel
Read Rogov's wine and food articles at www.stratsplace.com/rogov