Agathe Bursin – Westhalten
Since taking over the family domaine in 2000, Agathe has garnered a reputation as one of Alsace’s “comets in the sky”. Quantities from the 5ha estate are small and demand is high making the wines sell out fast. The vines are located around the village of Westhalten in the south of the Alsace region. Around one third of Agathe’s vines are in the Grand Cru of Zinnkoepflé – reaching up to be Alsace’s highest peak at 420m, with south/south-eastern exposures and wonderfully sheltered – with the remainder in what is known as the Noble Valley. Agathe works this terroir by hand and by heart, organic principals and herbal & biodynamic preparations all contributing to the health and vigour of the vines. This land is tied to Agathe’s experiences from early childhood tasting with her grandmother and grandfather. Production for the 5ha estate, although limited in number of bottles, covers all the noble varieties and styles of the regions and wonderfully exhibits the profound textural weight and verve of the region. All grapes are harvested together and co-fermented.
Her Riesling Dirstelberg comes from old vines in the east facing portion of the high elevation Dirstelberg with the famed grès rose (pink sandstone) soil. Pinot Gris Dirstelberg is from 42 year old vines. The Gewurztraminer Dirstelberg is gloriously ample and full in the style of the vineyard. We don’t think there’s anyone in Alsace making better Sylvaner than Agathe; quality-wise, these wines are the equal of many more famous Rieslings and Pinot Gris. The vines used to make Sylvaner Eminence were planted in 1930 and are located in the heart of the Zinnkoepflé grand cru on calcaire soil, a site that has a long and distinguished history of giving superlative Sylvaner wines (which cannot be labelled as Grand Cru as Sylvaner is not considered ‘worthy’ enough). The Riesling Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé Vendanges Tardives is from a parcel high up on the calcareous section of the Grand Cru. Hailing from low yielding, SW facing massale selection vines, the Pinot Noir Lutzeltal is Fermented with 60% whole clusters, eight days of cold maceration, then aged in used barrels from Chassagne Montrachet’s Jean-Claude Ramonet, and never sulphured until a soupçon is added immediately prior to bottling (yup that’s right, no sulphur during vinification nor élévage; purity is as purity does!).