Burgundy champion Becky Wasserman diesBy Lucy Shaw
Burgundy broker and champion of small growers from around France, Becky Wasserman, has died at the age of 84 from a respiratory illness.
As reported by Wine Spectator, Wasserman died on 20 August, having suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for several years.
The founder of Le Serbet and Becky Wasserman & Co. championed small estates from all over France, but had a particular fondness for Burgundy, where she was based, having moved there in 1968 with her husband Bart.
The couple bought a farm in Bouilland, a small village 10 miles from Beaune.
Wasserman was an ardent trumpet blower for young winemakers and small growers, and helped to bring wines from numerous boutique estates to the US.
“She created Burgundy as we know it today. That can’t be underestimated. So many people owe so much to her. She gave a lot more than she got back,” négociant Alex Gambal told Wine Spectator.
As reported by WS, in 1976 Wasserman launched a barrel brokering business, representing the Burgundy cooperage François Frères.
At the same time she went into business with American attorney Philip Diamond, cherry picking Burgundy producers for his fledgling wine import business.
In 1979, she brought the two businesses under one roof, naming her company Le Serbet after one of the fields on her farm.
She was instrumental in introducing small growers in Burgundy to the relevant importers to introduce the wines to the US market.
“Mom had a very real impact on the business in the States, being that she was one of the very early evangelists of small, family-owned domaines,” her eldest son, Peter, who has worked for Le Serbet since 2003, told Wine Spectator.
“She liked to say that she had a hand in creating the container consolidation system. Once that happened, it opened up the world to the potential of working with small producers,” he added.
Aubert de Villaine, co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, described Wasserman as “a legend”.
“Becky was one of my oldest and best friends in Burgundy. It is common knowledge in Burgundy that Becky was an enlightened ambassador for our region, a legend even,” he told WS.
In addition to her work in wine, Wasserman was an accomplished cook and harpsichord player.
She and her second husband, Russell Hone, were known for being generous hosts and selfless supporters of those needing their help in the industry, dispensing advice and making all-important introductions.
Le Serbet will continue to be run by CEO Dominique Tard Roux, with Wasserman’s youngest son Paul in the role of co-CEO Paul. Her eldest son Peter will stay on as a brand ambassador in the US.