Monday, September 6, 2010
Becky Wasserman is a well-known, highly respected wine exporter, who started her company while living in France in 1979. I have enjoyed many of the wines she represents over the years and was interested to find out more about the woman behind the wines. You can visit her company website, Le Serbet (aka Selection Becky Wasserman), here.
What is your first memory involving wine?
Reading about wine. Kahlil Gibran and ' a loaf of
bread, a jug of wine, and thou'. (Fifteen years old...).
Why did you move to Burgundy in 1968 and what was your life like then?
I was the wife of an artist
(Wasserman) who wanted to be far away from New York (the action was
all there in '68). A friend found us a house to rent in Burgundy - we
arrived during the 'evenements', two small sons, my mother. I was not
invited to tastings but cooked and washed wineglasses.
What was it like to start your own wine company in 1979? How did you do it?
It was frightening but necessary, a first step to
independence. I borrowed the necessary twenty thousand francs, found
a supportive banker, and entered into a 'Perils of Pauline' existence.
Which aspect of running your company was/is most challenging?
The most challenging aspect was - for many years - survival.
Mediocrity is a better earner than quality, by the way. Nowadays, it
is how to keep a balance and not give in to any faddishness.
How do you choose the wines you represent?
We have worked with many of our domaines for thirty years. Now we are
often contacted by small domaines from all over France who have heard
about Le Serbet.The decision to represent a domaine is consenual and
we prefer to taste samples first, then visit the domaine under
consideration. We are six at Le Serbet, all women except for Russell
Hone. Peter Wasserman is our USA consultant.
Does it matter to you if a winemaker is farming organically and/or using native yeasts?
For many years we have praised organic viticulture, indigenous yeasts,
old vines, and low yields. However, today's green mantra smacks of a
certain moral superiority that reminds me of the days when a noted
critic rode on a non-filtration horse and all who filtered were bad
people. We do not yet know what long term effects copper will have on
the soil. It is not wise to be too dogmatic. The danger does not lie
in non-indigenous yeasts but the possible use of genetically modified
yeasts that could potentially kill all individuality.....Our domaines
range from sustainable to biodynamic farming. (I went to a Rudolf
Steiner school). We have just turned down an eminently natural
domaine because the wines were cloudy, thin, eager to be liked, but
truly not nice.
Please share a recent memorable food and wine pairing.
A lapin à la moutarde with a bottle of
Sylvain Pataille's Fleur de Pinot.
What makes you happy?
Back to the loaf of bread and jug of wine. Truly, one of
the rare moments when all goes well with our children, the work, and
the weather. The absence of angst. The quiet of the vineyards just
before harvest. Thinking that we can write all we want but vineyards
don't lie. Getting a new shipment of books from Amazon.
Posted by Amy Atwood at 11:52 AM