A taste of Becky Wasserman's wines

Tuesday, July 20, 2010; 4:52 PM

As a broker, Becky Wasserman works with importers throughout the United States. In the Washington area, her wines are represented by C'est Vin of Arlington. Owner Lanny Lancaster sells Selection Becky Wasserman wines only to restaurants, primarily because they are produced in small numbers and highly allocated. (Some major wine retailers in the District might sell a few Wasserman wines under direct import.) Lancaster, who calls himself "a Burgundy evaluator," also ages the wines until he believes they are ready to drink.

"This is the first bottle of this wine to be opened in the United States," Lancaster said as he poured me a taste of a 2000 Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru "Les Macherelles" from Domaine Hubert Lamy. Winemaker Olivier Lamy "doesn't care when you drink it: The wine will be ready when it wants to be," Lancaster said. Indeed, it tasted clumsy and unbalanced at first, but after about 20 minutes began to show unctuous fruit and minerality, with a caramel accent that indicated age.

Lancaster knows his Burgundies. He peppers his conversation with names of famous winemakers from the Cote d'Or, and he is a fixture at the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon, where I met him last year.

Wasserman's wines are not easy to find, and they aren't cheap. Lancaster suggests looking at Michel Richard Citronelle, City­Zen, Proof, Adour and Corduroy. Look for Burgundies or champagnes with some age, or ask the sommelier to recommend one. C'est Vin carries several producers from Wasserman's portfolio, including Benjamin Leroux, Comte Armand, Comte de Vogue, Devevey, Michel Lafarge, Hubert Lamy, Domaine des Croix and Maison Camille Giroux.

Wasserman's wines represent value because of her ties to the growers, Lancaster said. "Many of these people didn't sell wine in America until they started talking to Becky," he said. "Burgundy is all about relationships, and it is one of the greatest compliments a Burgundian can give to say he will only sell through this person."

-- D.M.

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