I recently found myself in Eltville am Rhein, on a day trip with the in-laws, and after a lovely wander along the river and a nose about the famous rose garden, we decided it was time for a glass of wine and a bite to eat. (So often the way.) After a short amble along a small street lined with very old and crooked timber houses, my father-in-law led us into the courtyard of Weingut Koegler, a winery where a few years ago he used to acquire an awful lot of wine. Moments later we found ourselves sitting in their serene, rose-filled garden, basking in the late afternoon sun.
The four of us sat in the half-empty garden enjoying the scent of the roses and warmth of the sporadic sunshine. It felt somehow a little bit smart but was also really quite relaxed, with a play area for children at the far end under a big old tree that means it’s also great for families – without disturbing everyone else. The wine list is excellent, as you’d expect from a winery that, I’m told, has for some years now been considered as a producer of some of the best wines in the Rheingau (by which I don’t mean “top” wines, but “extremely good” ones). By the 2l glass they were generally priced in the region of 4,00-4,50€, however I’m totally unqualified to say much more about them other than the one I had (more on that later) was delicious.
Me, I’m all about the food, and the menu boasts a selection of fancy versions of traditional, regional dishes as well as a few “new creations”, the mention of which always worries me slightly: I’ve had some pretty peculiar experimental German food in my time. In this case, however, I needn’t have worried, for the kitchen at Weingut Koegler appears to know exactly what it’s doing.
My lentils with goat’s cream cheese and a honey-curry sauce (Lauwarmer Linsenlauchsalat, above, 9,50€) came on the sort of fancy, modern plate I really, really detest; the food itself for me typified the sort of German take on modern cuisine that can be really hit-and-miss. That said, the textures and flavours all worked really well together and the lentils were cooked perfectly, retaining a good bite to contrast with the creamy, goaty cheese. It made a very tasty – if somewhat unusual – mid-afternoon snack.
The Bechtermünzteller (9,80€, above) comprised a small selection of locally-produced cured ham and sausages including Blutwurst (blood sausage) and Leberwurst (liver sausage); it was declared good, but very rich. Garnished with sliced cornichons and grated horseradish, it was served with really very good dark bread and a small pot of sweet mustard.
The most exciting of all the dishes was naturally the one I didn’t get a picture of, apart from its accompanying wines (above), however three differently-aged chunks of Handkäse – the very pungent sour milk cheese that’s traditionally served with Musik, vinegar with chopped onions and a sprinkling of caraway seeds – were served alongside three glasses of Koegler wine (all 0,05l): a 2009 Grüner Veltliner trocken, a 2009 Gutsreisling trocken and a 2007 Riesling „ Johannes G“ (wines pictured above). Wolfed down by my father-in-law, I reckon this was pretty good value for 10,50€ – if you like that sort of thing!
Dining complete, we had a little wander around, first poking our noses inside to discover a rather smart-looking restaurant and a lovely old cellar for parties. At this point I nipped into the loo, where I encountered hand-washing facilities so unbelievably wasteful of water and generally idiotic that I was compelled to take a photo (which took about 12 attempts, because the “tap” was motion sensitive, and it’s quite hard waving your hand at a fountain to get it to come on whilst trying to take a picture of it. All part of the Sausage Has Two service, folks).
We were so taken with what we’d finished drinking half an hour before that we then headed directly across the courtyard to buy a couple of bottles of wine at the vinothek (below). The Alta Villa Riesling trocken and the Sommerwind Riesling trocken were both excellent: fresh, fruity and faintly minerally, and priced somewhere in the region of 7-8€ each for 750ml. To my great excitement, I also discovered that Weingut Koegler were the first winery in Germany to produce Verjus (the non-alcoholic juice of unripened grapes, used in cooking and thus far, for me at least, almost impossible to find), so I picked up a bottle of that as well, and felt very pleased with myself indeed.
The vinothek itself, which looks on the inside as if it’s been done up quite recently, is pretty snazzy (by which I mean, not to my personal taste!) and not particularly atmospheric, but the staff – just like everyone else we encountered at Weingut Koegler – were charming, helpful and very knowledgeable about their wines.
So, we’ve established that Weingut Koegler is a lovely place to while away an afternoon. It’s definitely a little bit fancy, but it’s also relaxed and friendly and apart from the awful crockery, it doesn’t appear to be trying too hard. In my opinion, such good quality food and wine in such a lovely location is a bit of a treat, and not bad value at all at 15€ a head. I’m not sure I’d travel all the way back to Eltville again just for a plate of lentils, but the rest of the menu looked promising and it’s definitely worth visiting them to sample their wines. They’ve even got a little hotel on the premises, though it’s presumably not inexpensive, so as well as being a good spot for a family lunch and a fun-looking place for an evening celebration (see earlier comment re: wine cellar), Weingut Koegler might well also tick the box for a romantic night away. At the very least, however, it’s great for basking in the afternoon sunshine with a very good glass of wine.
Website: Weingut Koegler (in German, English, Korean and Chinese; menu and wine list currently being updated)
Address: Kirchgasse 5, 65343 Eltville/Rheingau