Domaine Rolly Gassmann

Alsace, France

Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic

While the winemaking history of the Rolly and Gassmann families in Alsace can be traced back to the 17th century, Domaine Rolly-Gassmann was not established until 1967 when the two families were joined by marriage. Now run by second-generation Pierre Gassmann, the domaine encompasses 50 hectares of vineyards, with 40 hectares in the village of Rorschwihr (where they are based) and 10 in the village of Bergheim.

Domaine Rolly-Gassmann are famed for their remarkable collection of older vintages, producing about 300,000 bottles a year but storing and ageing over two million.

“There has always been a tradition of ageing wines in our village,” says Pierre. “The limestone soils produce wines that are more backward, and need time before they are released, so we age the wines to ensure they show at their best when they are being sold.”

In 2019, this requirement for ageing led Pierre to build an impressive new winery in the village of Rorschwihr. Nicknamed ‘the cathedral’ by Alsace locals, this six-tier, state-of-the-art construction, built into the hillside, has brought the domaine’s gravity-fed vinification facilities, cellar and panoramic tasting room under one roof. Rorschwihr lies on a fault line, which created over 20 variations of limestone in its soils. As a result, the village has no Grand Crus. Instead, it is divided into multiple lieux-dits to reflect this range of soil complexity, including ‘Kappelweg’, ‘Oberer Weingarten’, ‘Silberberg de Rorschwihr’ and ‘Brandhurst de Bergheim’.

Though uncertified, Domaine Rolly-Gassmann farm their vineyards using organic and biodynamic principles. They encourage noble rot in their grapes and harvest late to achieve optimal sugar ripeness and a concentrated fruit expression. “We usually start picking when other producers are picking their vendange tardive wines!” says Pierre. Their vineyards are divided into roughly 70 plots, all hand-harvested and vinified separately.

Pierre applies the same winemaking philosophy across his range, utilising gentle pressing, long fermentations with indigenous yeasts and extended lees ageing that varies depending on grape and vineyard site.

Grapes for the Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner and Pinot Gris Réserve are pressed for 8 -12 hours before a 4 - 5-month fermentation. Conversely, the individual lieux-dits are pressed for 12 - 15 hours before a six-month fermentation in large, oak barrels. All the cuvées are then aged on their fine lees, before being bottled the following September.

The Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner and Pinot Gris Réserve all display vibrant, varietal characters with a touch of residual sweetness balanced by fine acidity. The ‘Brandhurst de Bergheim’ Pinot Gris, which sits on Jurassic marl-limestone, expresses a generous character of ripe apricot, pear and golden raisins.

The calcareous marl soils of the ‘Kappelweg de Rorschwihr’ lieu-dit (a Grand Cru site in all but name) produce both an elegant Riesling, where rich stone fruit is offset by racy acidity, as well as a restrained Gewürztraminer that speaks as much of the site as it does its varietal typicity.

The ‘Silberberg de Rorschwihr’ lieu-dit is planted on ‘Muschelkalk’ limestone, which predates the Jurassic era. Translating as ‘Mussel chalk’ in reference to the component of ancient fossil shells, this soil composition lends itself to a Riesling of crystalline freshness balanced by soft citrus fruit.

All wines from this producer

Producer
Wine
Product Code
Features
Style
Domaine Rolly GassmannSylvaner Réserve MillésimeRL201
W
White
RieslingRL202
W
White
GewurztraminerRL203
W
White
Factsheet
Brandhurst de Bergheim Pinot GrisRL204
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
Kappelweg de Rorschwihr RieslingRL205
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
Riesling de Rorschwihr `Cuvée Yves` Vendanges TardivesRL206
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
Oberer Weingarten de Rorschwihr Gewurztraminer Vendanges TardivesRL207
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
Silberberg de Rorschwihr RieslingRL210
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
Pinot Gris `Réserve Rolly Gassmann`RL211
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White
Factsheet
Kappelweg de Rorschwihr GewurztraminerRL212
Practising Organic
Practising Biodynamic
W
White