In our household we are massive fans of the wines of the Alsace producer Rolly Gassmann.
I remember buying Riesling Silberberg, Muscat Moenchreben, and most recently (April 2022) Sylvaner Réserve Millésime from TWS. I think I also might have bought Auxerrois Moenchreben in a distant past. For years the edelzwicker blend Terroirs des Châteaux Forts was even our ‘house’ white and was available very regularly from TWS. Great value at around £10.
Sadly, since last spring I haven’t seen any Rolly Gassmann wines appear on the TWS list. Would anyone on this forum know if and when ( & what?) TWS will list some of these delicious wines again? Much appreciated.
I have no knowledge about the possible reappearance of Rolly Gassmann, I’m afraid. There’s a few that have disappeared over the years, or at least only feature very occasionally: Weinbach, Mochel, Dirler-Cade. We see more of Louis Sipp, and Meyer-Fonne are new - both good developments imo- but the selection seems more narrow than it used to be.
It does feel that way. We also appear to have ‘lost’ Bruno Sorg, another great producer from Alsace. Not sure why that is, but I suspect may be rising prices as I see more wines from cooperatives and ‘cheaper’ producers appear on the TWS list. Nothing wrong with that btw, cooperatives in Alsace produce quality wines.
Glad we still get some Dirler-Cade here. The Muscat GC Saering is special, and the Sylvaner VV is fantastic value. And yes, Meyer-Fonne is a great addition to the range. Their Gentil is a fantastic wine for the price.
The tastings at Rolly Gassmann are the stuff of legends. Been quite a few times myself. 60+ wines is quite a task, especially as they are all fairly rich. Haven’t been to the new tasting room. Loved the old one near the church is Rorschwihr. With the buckets as spittoons. I fondly remember one tour of the cellars with Pierre Gassmann that took hours because we got discussing the intricacies of biodynamic viticulture. His wife kept phoning him his dinner was getting cold/was in the oven/was in the fridge.
Agree. I love these wines. We served the Cuvee Yves 2003 as our wedding white wine, purchased from the cellar door. We bought so much the bottom of our little VW Polo scraped along the cobbles as we drove out of Ribeauville. They are a little sweeter than other Alsace wines, and I wonder if that means they are not to the majority’s taste? But they are glorious wines and I would buy them again in a heartbeat if they appeared on the list.
The new premises at Rolly Gassmann are incredible, and need to be seen to be believed, especially if you’ve been to the old ones. But in some ways, it’s removed some of the charm and personal touch that was so much a part of tasting there. Because it’s so big, it can accommodate much larger groups, and often does, which can end up making it all seem a bit impersonal. Pierre is great, if it’s him who’s serving you, but it often isn’t.
As for the disappearance of their wines from the list, as others have said, it’s symptomatic of what does seem to be a decline in the diversity of the Society’s Alsace offering, in favour of a few big names (Hugel, Trimbach, Zind Humbrecht), and coops and larger, cheaper independents (e.g. the Cattins). I wouldn’t like to guess why, but it is a bit sad.
The old premises had so much charm. Down to the wobbly little tables and the old fridge that held the whites. When Pierre didn’t do the tasting it was usually this elderly lady. She was so nice. After making my purchases she always slipped in a few extra bottles and whispered: “Don’t tell the boss”. I heard she sadly passed away.
The issue that I have with the likes of Trimbach and the Turckheim coop is that I can pretty much get those wines anywhere. To be able to get the wines of Bruno Sorg and Rolly Gassmann delivered to my doorstep is what I love about TWS. And yes, for Alsace wines that appeal appears to be waning. I won’t mind if for example they replaced Rolly Gassmann with Ernest Burn, as I find his wines have a very similar richness to the ones from RG. Or some other interesting producer like Kientzler, Jean Becker, Roland Schmitt, or Gresser. There is so much to choose from in Alsace, why can’t this be reflected better in TWS offerings? Genuine question.
Just visited them last month - have followed them for 20 years - and the new tasting venue, whilst outr of all proportion to the village, does have stunning views - and somewhere for kids to play, nice touch! - and the range open for tasting was still very extensive and shared generously. Only fly in the ointment were the very high shipping costs (we had flown for this trip) - even within EU.
Sounds like that was Marie-Thérèse Gassmann (née Rolly), Pierre’s mother. Normally to be found sat by the door with her desk calculator, doing all of the invoices by hand. Now, she was the real boss - very much in charge of operations. Sadly, yes, she passed away in 2018, so didn’t see the new premises open.
One year we were there between Christmas and New Year, and Yves, the eldest son who forsook winemaking to become a priest, was back home. The place was heaving, and he was trying to make excuses that he couldn’t help because he didn’t know what to do, but she was having none of it, pressing him into service putting wine in boxes, priest or no priest. One of the great characters.
My wife and I were luck to have a tasting done by the same lady a few years ago. Pierre started the tasting but got called away, so this lady continued it and the portions kept getting bigger and the wines more expensive including the SGN wines. A memorable day and we bought a lot of wine as a result. For me, the new location is a little corporate and we did not feel the same sense of passion. Hasn’t put me off their wine though…
A quick happy update. We tasted at Rolly Gassmann this morning, and it was fortunately very quiet. And we were served by Pierre’s new fiancée, who he’s marrying in the summer Brother Yves will be doing the religious ceremony, of course…