100: Gerard Basset

01 July 2010 100: Gerard Basset

Overall ranking: 48

Hotelier ranking: 14

Gerard Basset - Snapshot

Gerard Basset, the co-founder of" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Hotel du Vin]( and now co-owner with wife, Nina, of Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest, is the only person in the world to hold the combined titles of Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, Wine MBA and, as of April 2010, World's Best Sommelier.

Gerard Basset - Career guide

French-born Basset came to England in 1984 to watch his football team, St Etienne, play Liverpool. He fell in love with Merseyside, decided to stay and got a job - first as a dishwasher, then as a waiter.

Frustrated by not being able to become a sommelier, Basset returned to France and took a chef's course at the Unifort adult education college in Beaujolais. He then cooked at restaurants and chain hotels in Lyon and Marseilles. This knowledge of the kitchen was to prove invaluable.

In 1988 he came back to England, this time to join renowned country house hotel Chewton Glen in New Milton, Hampshire, as a sommelier. He quickly rose to head sommelier.

At Chewton Glen, Basset met Robin Hutson, and the pair went on to launch Hotel du Vin in Winchester in 1994. The boutique chain grew to six hotels before selling to Malmaison owner MWB Group for £66.4m in October 2004.

Gerard Basset - What we think

Ask anybody in hospitality who they think of upon hearing the word "wine" and the answer will be unanimous: Gerard Basset.

Basset's victory in the World's Best Sommelier competition came at the sixth time of trying - and followed three runners-up prizes. Upon finally scooping the top prize, Basset admitted it was "the hardest thing I have ever done".

Basset, who serves as the worldwide vice-president at the Court of Master Sommeliers and is director of the Academy of Food & Wine, has influenced or trained most sommeliers worth their salt working in the UK.

The legion of Basset protégés ranges from Gordon Ramsay Holdings' ex-director of wine Ronan Sayburn, whom Basset advised and helped get his first job at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, to Xavier Rousset, of Texture fame.

But that is not to say that Basset is just about wine. As co-founder with Robin Hutson of Hotel du Vin, he can justifiably lay claim to have introduced the concept of boutique hotels to the UK. And Basset's return to the industry in 2007, with Hotel TerraVina, highlighted that he truly does have hospitality in his veins.

It's very much a hands-on approach for Gerard and Nina. They have no backers on the project and spend much of their time at the hotel. Speaking to Caterer in 2008, he said: "If things go wrong, we can rectify them immediately, because we are on site."

Gerard Basset - Further information

Gerard Basset - A minute on the Clock >>

Gerard Basset named the World's Best Sommelier >>
[Read more about the 100, the list of the most influential people hereÂ">

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