Domaine Rolly Gassmann joins our French portfolio
We are delighted to announce that Liberty Wines has been appointed UK agent for Domaine Rolly Gassmann, further strengthening the quality and diversity of our French portfolio.
While the winemaking history of the Rolly and Gassmann families in Alsace can be traced back to the 17th century, the Domaine was not established until 1967 when these two families were joined by marriage. Now run by second generation Pierre Gassmann, the domaine boasts an impressive 52 hectares in the Haut-Rhin region, 40 of which are in Rorschwihr and 10 in Bergheim.
The family is known for their remarkable collection of vintages; they age and store up to five years’ worth of stock - around 1.5 million bottles - and only release wines that they feel are ready to drink. This particular vision led Pierre to create an impressive new winery, completed in 2019 and nicknamed ‘The Cathedral’ by the locals. This six-tier, state-of-the-art construction, built into the hillside, has brought their gravity-fed vinification facilities, cellar and panoramic tasting-room under one roof.
Unusually, the village of Rorschwihr has no Grands Crus. It lies on a fault line, which created over 20 variations of limestone soil. The Alsatian authorities attempted to combine large areas of Rorschwihr to form several Grands Crus as part of the new system in the 1970s. This proposal was rejected by the villagers of Rorschwihr, who declared that there should be 12 Grands Crus or none at all. Today there are instead multiple lieux-dits to reflect the soil complexity.
The Rolly Gassmann vineyards are farmed using organic and biodynamic principles but are not certified. The vineyards are divided into around 70 different plots, which are all hand-harvested and vinified separately. Pierre allows the grapes to ripen fully, encourages noble rot and harvests late to achieve high sugar levels and concentrated fruit expression in his wines. The resulting richness requires time to harmonise, which is why Pierre ages and releases his wines later than most. It is also the reason why he produces such long-lived wines.
Domaine Rolly Gassmann Sylvaner Réserve Millésime 2017
The Sylvaner is planted on clay, marl and limestone soils in the commune of Rorschwihr. All 21 different types of limestone known in the world can be found in the soils of this village, and the sub-soil there is similarly diverse. These soils, and the particular climate of the sites were discovered by the monks who first made wine here over 400 years ago, and today some of their methods are still used; vineyard activity is carried out based on the position of the moon and stars, with grape maturity and picking determined by the ripeness of the pips, as well as the skins. The wine is a vibrant pale yellow, with delicate white flower and nutty aromas. On the palate, rich grapey flavours, bolstered by a touch of residual sugar, are balanced by a taut acidity and saline character. Approachable for drinking now, this wine will also keep for another decade or more.
Domaine Rolly Gassmann Riesling 2019
The Riesling comes from the same vineyard area in Rorschwihr. It was fermented using wild yeasts for around five months, after which it rested on lees until April. The wine was aged for a further eleven months before bottling. The Rolly Gassmann Riesling is a vibrant clear wine with green hints. It has an expressive nose, with notes of white and yellow flowers, and a delicate toasty note. The palate is concentrated and complex, with fresh stone fruit characters, a well-balanced acidity and a saline note on the finish.
Domaine Rolly Gassmann Gewurztraminer 2016
The wines from the 2016 vintage are fresh, crisp and light, with plenty of vivacity. This is a very expressive Gewurztraminer, with notes of jasmine and exotic fruits, leading to a complex and rich palate, lifted by a fresh saline finish. Like the Sylvaner and the Riesling, the Gewurztraminer grows on the same clay, marl and limestone soils in the commune of Rorschwihr, where the vineyards are organically and biodynamically managed.
Domaine Rolly Gassmann Brandhurst de Bergheim Pinot Gris 2013
Rolly Gassmann owns 2.47 hectares of vineyards in Bergheim which are planted on Jurassic marl limestone soils. These ancient soils help to produce rich and elegant wines. The lieu-dit Brandhurst de Bergheim is located at 240 to 300 metres above sea level, giving the wine superb freshness. The Brandhurst de Berheim Pinot Gris has a generous character of ripe apricot, pear and golden raisins with a luscious mid-palate and long, lingering finish.
Domaine Rolly Gassmann Kappelweg de Rorschwihr Riesling 2014
Rolly Gassmann owns 5.67 hectares of the lieu-dit Kappelweg de Rorschwihr. Located at 220 to 235 metres above sea level, the vines sit on ancient blue-grey marl limestone soil which gives the wines vibrant acidity and intense concentration. The vineyards are managed following organic and biodynamic principles but are not certified. Fermentation lasted for five months, after which the wine spent two months on lees and was then aged for 11 months in large, used oak barrels. This Riesling displays a powerful character with layers of ripe stone fruit and underlying citrus notes, balanced by a racy acidity culminating in a long finish.
Domaine Rolly Gassmann Riesling de Rorschwihr ‘Cuvée Yves’ 2010
2010 was a challenging year, with a harsh winter, (temperatures fell to -20˚C in Colmar in December 2009) which delayed the growing season. Fortunately the warm summer months accelerated ripening and limited disease risks. These seasonal extremes resulted in fruit with good sugar concentration and high acidity. The grapes for the ‘Cuvée Yves’ were harvested late, on the 10th October 2010, allowing for greater accumulation of sugars and flavour intensity. The Riesling de Rorschwihr ‘Cuvée Yves’ is expressive on the nose, with ripe yellow fruits, floral and citrus notes. The ripe fruit notes meld with pastry, candied orange, honey and botrytis notes. The palate is smooth and complex with ripe apricot, hazelnut and Mirabelle plums, all lifted by delicate but incisive acidity.
Domaine Rolly Gassmann Oberer Weingarten de Rorschwihr Vendanges Tardives 2008
Rolly Gassmann own just over six hectares of the lieu-dit Oberer Weingarten de Rorschwihr. This particular site is known for its ancient bedrock of Jurassic limestone, over which sit tiny pebbles of silty clay. This combination of soils results in powerful wines with fantastic richness and longevity. The vines lie at 225 to 260 metres above sea level and are planted facing south-east to aid with ripening. Careful vineyard management was essential in 2008, with threats of mildew in June. As such, the resulting wines have good concentration, balancing high acidity, and potential for longevity. The Oberer Weingarten de Rorschwihr has notes of lychee, mango and papaya on the nose. The palate is smooth and complex with notes of botrytis and honey, structured with an elegant acidity, which with age has remained fresh and pure. The residual sugar is expertly balanced with the acidity, giving a wonderfully fresh and balanced wine for its age and development.
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