Our time in the Mosel Valley was relatively short, three nights and two days of exploration, before departing on a cruise which spend another half-day on the river, before entering the Rhine.
The short time, however, was devoted primarily to our mission of exploring as many of the local restaurants, wines, and as we discovered in Cochem, the liqueurs, of the Mosel Valley, as possible.
Our restaurant forays were limited by a combination of our limited time in the valley and the limited opening hours of the restaurants. The bad news is that we were foreclosed by our first choice of Cochem restaurants by a misunderstanding in the date of our reservations. Despite our having a written confirmation from the manager, they insisted that we had the wrong date. Go figure.
Given our inability to eat at the restaurant of our choice, we did have some nice meals in both Cochem and in Beilstein.
Grute Quelle, a restaurant attached to the hotel of the same name, came highly recommended. We were not disappointed. While the restaurant was filled, the service was fast, efficient and friendly. For food, Joyce had a salad with smoked salmon and egg. I had a large sautéed trout with slivered almonds in brown butter—both were wonderful. Our lunch wine, as recommended by our server, was a very good wine from right next to the city, a 2010 Beilsteiner Schlosberg Riesling Kabinett Reisling.
- Castello’s, an Italian restaurant, was the only one we found open when we arrived in Cochem at 9:45. We had a delightful meal, our server was very friendly and helpful and all three dishes were very good. We began with snails with mushrooms and garlic in a tomato sauce. For entrees, we had veal scallops with Parma ham and sage in a white wine sauce, with potato croquettes and grilled shrimp with tagliatelle. While we had been drinking Italian wines with some of our Polish and German foods, we decided try a German wine with our Italian meal. When in The Mosel Valley, do as the "Moselians" do. We had a bottle of Peter Gobel 2011 Riesling Trochen–and we’re glad we did. Overall, a very nice and very inexpensive dinner experience.
- Rathskeller Cochem. This ancient (founded in 1739) restaurant is in a lovely basement, with curved brick ceilings, ornamental medallions, and carved wood bar. The food, while rather simply prepared, was delicious and the service very good. Joyce had a steamed wild salmon fillet on Spanish with shallots, garlic and boiled potatoes. I took our server’s recommendation, having the very moist roast saddle of pork wrapped in savoy cabbage with steamed vegetables and Spatzle. While we would have normally had red wine with this food, we greatly prefer Mosel whites to reds. We, therefore, had another Riesling, this time a 2011 Die Moselserie Motiv Porta Nigra.
- Restaurant Lohspeicher. We also have to mention the meal we never had: The meal that was our primary reason for staying at the hotel we chose–the Michelin-rated Lohspeicher. We had reservations for 7:00, the time the restaurant suggested when we requested 8:00. So far. So good. The problem came when we went downstairs at the appointed time. Not only was the restaurant closed, there was not a single person from the hotel staff anywhere to be found. We were on our own to find an alternative (the Rathskellers, which we enjoyed.) We did, however, get one more chance to eat at Lohspeicher. Although we returned from our trip to Trier too late for the restaurant’s regular lunch menu, it was still serving its flatbread pizza, with creme fraische, bacon and leeks (which was quite good). While not much of a substitute for a dinner, it was probably better than we could have done at most of the main street restaurants rushing to cater to the throngs of day-trippers. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Mosel Wines and Liqueurs
Although we know of, although we were not particularly familiar with, Mosel wines, we did not know of the region’s liqueurs. We were, therefore, surprised to see so many of Cochem’s shops dedicated to selling 50 or more local liqueurs, of every imaginable color and taste, from dispensers that allowed visitors to taste and buy liqueurs in any quantity they preferred.
Although we were primarily interested in local wines, we tried, enjoyed and did buy small bottles of two liqueurs—one that tasted like Amaretto and one like an Irish Cream liqueur.
We also tasted pretty much all types of Mosel wines. Although we haven’t quite developed palette for Mosel reds–primarily Spartburgonder (Pinot Noir) or the somewhat fuller bodied Dornfelder–we did enjoy a number of the whites.
The vast majority of whites are Rieslings—crossing all levels of the sweetness spectrum. We tried about a dozen different dry and off-dry (primarily Trocken and Kabinett), semi-sweet (Spatlese), and increasingly sweet (Auslese, Eiswein and Beerenauslese) wines. The real treat, however, was a taste of one very rare, very expensive Trockenbeerenauslese (Botyticized) wine.
We, somewhat to our surprise, enjoyed many of these wines. Although we had nowhere near a representative sample of the more than 3,000 small wineries in the area, our favorites included the 2010 CA Haussmann and the 2010 Berncastle Doctor (one of the premier vintners and vineyards in the Mosel appellation) Kabinett Trochens. The 2011 Lenartz-Beth and Gobel-Schleyer Bruttiger Gotterlay Ausleses, the 2009 Gobel-Schleyer Cochemer Goldbaumchen Eiswine were also very good. The real treat, as mentioned, hover, was the 2009 Muller-Catoir Riesliner (a blend of Riesling and Sylvaner) Beerenauslese. This last wine, of which we had but one small glass, was a viscous golden color that tasted like lightly scented honey. Wonderful; but at $200 a half bottle, it had better be!