“Named after Marie-Thérèse Rolly and Louis Gassman, whose marriage brought about this successful winemaking partnership, the Gassmann estate dates back to 1676. Although both his parents remain actively involved, the business is currently run by Pierre Gassmann, and he is in the process of converting to biodynamic viticulture.
The winery is hidden away in the sleepy village of Rorschwihr, in the northern tip of the Haut-Rhin departement, and the estate’s vineyards are both here and in the neighbouring villages of Rodern and Bergheim.
Rolly Gassmann has 60 hectares of vines in total – quite a large amount for this area – and as a result it can produce wines in a wide range of styles. While there may not be any grand cru vineyards in Rorschwihr, it does have several good lieux-dits, with a great variety of soil types. These include Kappelweg, which has calcareous marl soil, Moenchreben’s clay-marl with gravel, Oberer-Weingarten’s soils of clay on Jurassic limestone, and Pflaenzerreben and Silberberg, both of which have muschelkalk soils, a mixture of limestone and dolomite rock. It also has a small amount of grand cru vines in Altenberg de Bergheim.
The Rolly Gassmann style is highly individual. Grapes are picked fully ripe and the development of noble rot is actively encouraged.
It produces single-varietal wines, including several late-harvest examples. Most of the wines have residual sweetness with the best also having good acidity levels to match. The wines are long lived and Rolly Gassmann is one of the few houses who habitually have wines for sale with plenty of bottle age.”
Last week, 30 members of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society tasted half a dozen wines from Rolly Gassmann at the Masonic Hall in Harrogate. The wines were presented by Dr. Stephen Cameron. Many of us have visited the Domaine in Alsace and remember tasting marathons in the Gassmann cellar with the matriarch. This was an opportunity taste his top end wines with some bottle age at a more leisurely pace.
1.Terroir des Chateaux 2012 (£10.50): The auxerrois grape accounts for the majority of the blend here, but the dominant flavour is that of gewurztraminer, which accounts for around a quarter. Rich, sweetish, spicy and full-flavoured. (15)
2. Auxerroise Moenchreben 2013 (£11.95): This richly flavoured, full-bodied white has some well-balanced sweetness and plenty of grip. Spicy and with hints of bread and apple. (15.5)
3. Riesling Pflanzerreben 2010 (£26.00): The Gassmanns think this is their finest riesling vineyard. There is good depth and concentration here and it comes from very low-yielding vines and a very late harvest. Finely etched and lovely now but, as with all their wines, will keep well. (16.5)
4. Pinot Gris Reserve 2007 (£24): Glorious example of Pinot Gris at its richest. Full-flavoured with appropriate hints of butter and toffee. (16.5)
5. Musacat Muenchreben SGN 2003 (£85): The extraordinary 2003 vintage was full of surprises such as this delectable sweet Alsace muscat made from super-ripe grapes. Still very fresh and youthful and just starting to take on the minty quality that this grape attains with age. (16.5)
6. Gewürztraminer Oberer Weingarten SGN 1994 (£85): In 1994, there was a very late Indian Summer and as a result perfect conditions for noble rot in Alsace. It was an average year for dry whites, most of which have been drunk, but the oft-exceptional 1994 sweet wines have just about reached their peak. Exceptional quality. (17)
The tasting was followed by a light supper prepared by Adam Vear of the Masonic Hall. Following Hugel Muscat Tradition 2013,(16) Salmon Fillet, Griddled Courgette and Bean Salsa were served with Jackson Family Estate La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2013. (15). White Chocolate & Baileys Mousse and Coffee & Mints followed.
- “Great evening last night and thanks to Stephen for a great performance.” – Ian Bexon, Harrogate
- “May we extend our thanks to Stephen for an excellent and informative presentation “Fings aint what they used to be “
A 600 family history of wine production in Alsace certainly provided some excellent and very different wines which we thank you Bernard for sourcing for us to try. A lovely salmon supper accompanied by a most enjoyable Jackson Pinot rounded off a perfect night. It has been an excellent and varied year with the wine society. Thank you for all your hard work and sharing your expertise and knowledge with us.” – Pat & John Shore, Harrogate
“I do remember going there with HMWS, and being overwhelmed by the Senior Madam Gassmann, who poured the tasting at a phenomenal rate, I think she was on No. 10 before we had finished No. 5. And very verbal she was too, shouting at us all ‘alle alle’ and various other French hurrying up noises. Never to be forgotten.” – Jane Greenwood
“I remember the last tasting we had at Rolly Gassman’s when his mother kept pouring out the wine quicker than we could drink it!” – Gwynneth Owen