A Wine Story


Terroir Crusader

Born and educated in New York City, Becky Wasserman-Hone migrated 40 years ago from the United States to the tiny village of Bouilland, France, when the wine world was still “innocent” and Volnays cost seven francs a bottle—the equivalent of one euro—for a premier cru. Becky got her start by selling François Frères oak barrels to the California wine industry, but later rolled out her last barrel for a career representing individual domains principally fromBurgundy, plus grower champagnes, the Beaujolais, the southern Rhône, and the Languedoc Roussillon.

Her company, SARL Le Serbet/Selection Becky Wasserman, is almost entirely staffed by women. Her team selects and exports wines from small estates whose reputations are based on sound viticulture practices, and respect for their specific terroirs. The company motto, “We cannot sell what we do not drink,” is not mere marketing. Wines are reviewed in the office, accompanied by lunch cooked by Russell Hone, Becky’s husband, and are often judged by their current and future compatibility with food. “The destiny of most wines is not to stand alone but to accompany food at some point in their lives,” says Becky.

Becky met David many years ago, when Dominique Simon was the sommelier with a reputation of which to be somewhat fearful, as he did not suffer fools gladly. She remembers her first visit to Bouley, opening the front door to be welcomed by the extraordinary scent of hundreds of apples. This was her introduction to a cuisine that treats the raw materials of culinary art with respect, and that does not seek to glorify the chef to the detriment of his ingredients. This respect is the fundamental belief of the best Burgundian estates: that the personality of the terroir must shine through; the winemaker is but an interpreter. There are thousands of domains bottling their wines today, and the quality can vary tremendously. How does one work through this maze? This is where someone like Becky comes in. From day one, she has been committed to finding wines that clearly evoke the vineyards from which they were produced; no one has been as dedicated as she to the essence of what terroir represents. If the back of a bottle says “Selection Becky Wasserman,” you can be assured of experiencing a wine made with great passion and respect for its place of origin.

Becky has been decorated by the French government for services rendered to Burgundy; she is a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Merite Agricole. She attributes her palate to myopia, and insists that poor vision enhances the senses of smell and taste. She says that selling Burgundies requires “the zeal of a missionary, the stubbornness of a mule, a large sense of humor, and the ability to change clothes in a telephone booth.” Her admiration for David Bouley’s cuisine continues to grow, and her recent tasting note compared his food to a wine from Chambolle-Musigny: “intensity with lightness.”

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