Basset pipped again in sommelier contest

10 November 2004
Basset pipped again in sommelier contest

Gerard Basset, co-founder of the Hotel du Vin group, has come second in the World's Best Sommelier Competition held in Athens earlier this month.

Basset, the only Master of Wine in the competition, competed against 43 contestants from 43 countries for the title that's contested every three years.

Before Basset reached the final, he had to take part in a gruelling set of tests on the Greek Island of Santorini. He had to answer 87 questions on wine, correctly identify a red and white wine, tasted blind, and then provide a food match, as well as spotting faults in a doctored line-up of wines.

"One had been closed with a plastic closure, yet it appeared to be corked," said Basset. "I couldn't understand it at first. Then I explained to the judges that it was possible to get a corked wine that had been stoppered with plastic - the tank can get contaminated - but that it was quite rare."

Basset guessed correctly, unlike many of his fellow contestants, assuring him a place in the Athens final two days later.

Italian Enrico Bernardo, who works at the Four Seasons Georges V hotel in Paris, claimed gold, forcing Basset into second place for the second time in the competition.

Basset, who has won countless other major sommelier competitions, including six in the UK, told Caterer: "I feel like Ivan Lendl winning all the major competitions, but never the final at Wimbledon. I love competitions, but this requires a lot of work."

Basset took eight weeks off before the final to prepare, spending about 40 hours a week revising and tasting.

"I can't say whether I would do it again - my wife would go barmy," he admitted.

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