GERARD BASSET OBE, MW, MS, MBA
Quite Simply One of the World’s Greatest Wine Authorities
Gerard Basset was without question one of the greatest wine professionals of a generation. He was the first and only individual to hold the excruciatingly challenging Master of Wine qualification simultaneously with the Master Sommelier and MBA Wine Business accolades, an achievement that is unlikely to be repeated for years to come. The crowning glory of his career came in April 2010 when he won the World Sommelier Championship, cementing his extraordinary domination of the industry. This was further augmented on receiving the OBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to hospitality and again in March 2013 when he joined the ranks of the wine elite as Decanter’s Man of the Year.
Born and raised in France, Gerard originally trained as a chef, but embarked on a career as a sommelier when he moved to the UK in the 1980s. It was not long before his prodigious talent came to the attention of the wine trade with award wins for the UK Sommelier of the Year, Best International Sommelier for French Wines and Best Sommelier of Europe in quick succession.
Parallel to his competition success was a growing business empire that many only dream of, for Gerard was a founding partner of the hugely successful Hotel du Vin Group, which grew to six hotels before it was sold to Malmaison for £66 million. During his ten years at the helm Gerard mentored and trained a generation of young sommeliers who sought out his expertise and guidance to launch their careers. Many have gone on to win industry awards and more still to launch their own successful businesses on the back of their experience at Hotel du Vin and, specifically, their grounding under Gerard.
The wine and hospitality industries have for a long time recognised the achievements of this extraordinary and eminently modest man. Having been afforded the prestigious ‘Medal of Saint-Etienne’ from his home town in France in 1997, he has since gone on to be the beneficiary of numerous awards including the On Trade UK Personality of the Year (Sopexa 2004), Special Achievement Award (Academy of Food & Wine Service 2005), Special Contribution (Drinks Business 2008), Wine Personality of the Year (International Wine Challenge 2010), Wine Personality of The Year (Harpers Wine & Spirits 2011), Industry Legend (Imbibe 2011) and Decanter Man of the Year (2013). He is regularly listed in the top 100 most powerful people in the hospitality industry. In 2010 he received the Catey Special Award for his accomplishments, placing him alongside an illustrious list of former winners that include Jamie Oliver, Sir Terrance Conran and Lord Coe, and in 2014 he was presented with the inaugural Catey Wine & Spirit Ambassador Award. Two years in a row, he was awarded the Best Ambassador/Communicator for French Wines (Harpers Wine & Spirits 2013 and 2014). He was Director of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe and is currently serving as Honorary President of the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust).
On the back of his Hotel du Vin success, Gerard opened TerraVina with his wife, Nina, in 2007, a boutique wine hotel in Hampshire, which became a destination for wine lovers from around the world. TerraVina won many awards and accolades with fans perhaps drawn more to its impressive cellar than to the beauty of the surrounding New Forest!
Gerard was approached by numerous global brands to share his unrivalled expertise. In 2014 Asia-based luxury hotel group, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts appointed him as the group’s first wine ambassador, and represented the French Wines with Style campaign in the UK. Gerard worked in partnership with Lehmann glass to create the Oenomust collection, a range developed to maximise aroma and tasting, and was the brand’s worldwide ambassador. He wrote regularly for a number of wine publications and was approached to join wine-lovers bible Decanter magazine as its ‘Burgundy correspondent’ in 2014 and was vice-chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards.