The Wines of Rolly Gassmann, Rohrschwihr
30th September 1998

Rolly Gassmann are one of the joys of Alsace.  They are a family firm, created by the marriage of Marie-Thérèse Rolly with Louis Gassmann.  They own no grand cru sites, but produce a huge range of wines, many from lieux dits, that is named vineyards, so these are effectively single-vineyard wines.  Rolly Gassmannn are renowned for their huge tastings in their cave (actually just a big warehouse) just off the sleepy square in Rohrschwihr.  There are no frills and no concessions to oeno-tourism.  You taste through a marathon of wines (I escaped quite lightly as I had another appointment, not to mention, and more importantly, lunch, ahead) and only the sternest of heart and tightest of wallet leave without buying anything. 

The Rolly Gassmann style is generally on the richer, fuller side, which is very much to my taste, compared to the austerity of others.  They are also to be praised for generally only releasing wines when they are ready to drink, which can mean that they can have up to 800,000 bottles in storage at any one time, from a number of vintages.  They farm their vineyards biodynamically, but do not have certification.

Rohrschwihr has a diversity of terroirs in its 152 or so hectares of vineyards, including the following lieux dits:

I tasted the following wines:

1995 Sylvaner Réserve Millésime
Nice delicate nose. Good, fruity attack and very clean. Fresh flavoured; full and fruity with decent acidity. Very Good Indeed.

1995 Pinot Blanc
Very slight nose. Fairly simple and uncomplicated. Good balance. Absolutely pure real pinot blanc. Very Good+.

1995 Auxerrois Moenchreben de Rohrschwihr
A rather odd vegetal nose that is rather unclear. Quite sweet on the palate. Fairly full. Reasonable fruit. Rather pleasant. Very Good Indeed.

1993 Riesling Silberberg
A little lacking on the nose. Some harsh notes. Not entirely satisfactory.

1993 Riesling Kappelweg
Much better on the nose than the Silberberg: much more refined and with rather better character. Markedly better on the palate, though it still doesn't seem entirely integrated. Good/Very Good.

1990 Riesling Pflaenzerreben
This is very much nicer on the nose than the two 1993 rieslings, with good fruit and riesling character. Nice attack. Rich and well rounded on the palate. This is a good mature Alsace riesling. Very Good Indeed.

1995 Pinot Noir Réserve Millésime
A very pale red. A slight, cherry nose. Some nice fruit flavours. Quite a lot of tannin. Good length. But a bit undistinguished. Good/Very Good.

1994 Pinot Noir Reserve Rolly Gassmann
A deeper colour, but there's something about the colour that's not entirely attractive. A reasonable nose. Rather lacking fruit on the palate and a bit acidic. At least it's not a tannic monster. Good/Very Good.

1994 Muscat Moenchreben
A nice, lightly perfumed nose, with good fruit. Light and fragrant, but a bit undistinguished. Pleasant but not ultimately satisfying.

1993 Tokay Pinot Gris Reserve Rolly Gassmann
Attractive nose. Full fruit on the attack, then some pepperiness. Nice, fresh and very acceptable. Very Good.

1990 Tokay Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives
A very good nose with great depth and honeyed depths. Fairly full on the palate with a good depth of flavour. Perhaps a bit too sweet and could perhaps do with a bit more pinot gris character. Very Good.

1991 Gewurztraminer Oberer Weingarten
A good fragrant gewurz nose, that is nice and clean. Very rich and full. There's a nice solid backbone of acidity and overall, very good balance. Very Good Indeed.

1988 Gewurztraminer Cuvée Anne-Marie
A very nice nose with good gewurz character and a lovely richness. There are some nice notes on the palate, but I find just a bit too much acidity, giving it a slightly harsh edge. Very Good.

1994 Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives
A very fragrant nose, full of gewurz character. Very good on the palate: smooth and rich with very good flavours. Very Good Indeed.

1994 Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles
A rather subdued nose, but with clear gewurz character. Rich on the attack. Perhaps a touch cloying, though it also feels very young. Very full; very long. This is a very fine example.

1989 Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles
This has a quite amazing nose. Very full with a deeply rich, rather honeyed nose. A magnificent depth of flavour and hardly cloying at all. Excellent.



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