On Monday 18th July 2016 the WING group met for a tasting of some Rolly Gassmann wines, led by Janine.

The Rolly Gassmann estate dates back to 1676 and the winery is in the village of Rorschwihr in Alsace and is in the process of converting to biodynamic viticulture. The estate has around 50 hectares of vines (40ha in Rorschwihr, 10ha in Bergheim and a few in Rodern). They produce on average 300,000 bottles per annum and they only export 20% of their annual production. 10% of wines are sold annually to Michelin-starred restaurants in France, who judge them to be very food-friendly.

Rolly Gassmann wines generally have high levels of residual sugar (even Auxerrois and Sylvaner are generally noticeably sweet here). However, they manage that sugar without obscuring vineyard-specific characteristics or fatiguing the palate; the estate typically releases its wines after anywhere between 2 and 10 years in bottle.

I was unable to attend this tasting myself (instead I was tasting other wines  – principally Rosé  as it was 36°C – in Bourgueil), so the notes below come from the those present – mainly Janine and Ralph, I understand.

Thanks to them:
Terroir des Chateaux Forts 2012   –   12.5%   –   25% Gewurz / 75% Auxerrois blend       £10.50
Buttery apple aromas. Rich in style, with an oily texture on the palate. Soft and nutty. Caramel, ginger spice, apple strudel. Off-dry, with just enough acidity to balance the richness. More like a new world Gewurz than Alsace.

Moenchreben de Rorschwihr Auxerrois 2013   –   13.5%   –   100% Auxerrois      £11.95
Not as rich on the nose as the previous wine. Aromas of hazelnuts and herbs/green leaf. A rich style again, but drier on the palate and a firmer structure. Orange peel notes at the end.

Riesling Silberberg de Rorschwihr 2007   –   12%      £21
Pale gold. Faint diesel aromas and a hint of peach. A touch of sweetness on the palate with honey and melons. Not quite enough acidity to balance, but good length. Might be a touch old? Has less of an impact than the previous wines.

Riesling Pflanzerreben de Rorschwihr 2010   –   13%      £26
Pale gold. Not as rich on the nose than than previous Riesling and more diesel aromas. Drier on the palate, with a touch of honey, minerality and grapefruit.

Pinot Gris Reserve 2007   –   13%     £24
Medium gold. Ginger spice, caramel and buttery aromas. Vey rich style, almost like caramel popcorn. Lower acid than the Rieslings, but balanced and with good concentration and length. Unusually old for a Pinot Gris, but doesn’t suffer for it.

Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim Gewurztraminer 2012   –   13.5%      £30
Medium gold. Soapy aromas at first, then rosewater / turkish delight and mango. Persistent aromas. A very rich style again. Sweet on the palate, with lychees, rosewater and gingerbread. Just enough acidity and great length. Made in a late-harvest style.

Prices shown are current UK – Wines 1,3 & 5 are still available from the Wine Society.

Conclusion: we agreed that there was probably too much of the winemaker’s individual style showing through the first four wines, which masked the varietal qualities to some extent (RG’s house style is rich wines with residual sugar). But the Pinot Gris and Gewurz were much more interesting.