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.
Agathe Bursin Riesling Grand Cru Zinnkoepfle 2018
The aromatic, spicy nose is lifted by a floral element. Sweet peach and orange flavors show an exotic aspect, but ripe, harmonious acids help the wine retain liveliness and freshness. Finishes pure and very bright. Carries 8 g/L residual sugar, but with almost incredibly high acidity (9 g/L total acidity, a number more typically associated with the Rieslings of 2010, but almost unheard of in much warmer 2015), it doesn’t come across as especially off-dry. This parcel of vines is located high up in the Zinnkoepflé (one of the highest of Alsace’s grands crus) at about 400 meters above sea level, where the soil is mainly calcaire. (The Zinnkoepflé’s famous pink sandstone is located mainly on the lower slopes of the grand cru.) Interestingly, Bursin makes another Riesling wine from vines also grown at 400 meters above sea level but in the Dirstelberg lieu-dit, which is mainly calcaire. As these two very different wines are made in exactly the same way, and from the same grape variety, they provide an excellent study in terroir (though note that Bursin’s Dirstelberg vines are twice as old as the Zinnkoepflés). Ian d’Agata (on the 2015 vintage).