World leading sommelier Gerard Basset has been appointed as the first wine ambassador of Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
He will work alongside Yang Lu, Shangri-La's corporate wine director, on enhancing the group's wine programme and nurturing sommeliers in the 80 hotels across the global company, including its newest property, the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard, London , which is due to open on 6 May.
Basset, who owns Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest with his wife Nina, won the 2010 Best Sommelier in the World title and is the only person ever to simultaneously hold the Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and MBA Wine honours. He won the Catey Special Award in 2010 and the following year was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
He said that working with such "a highly prestigious and notable hotel group as Shangri-La" will enable him to be continuously involved in luxury hospitality at the highest level. "It's a great privilege to share my years of experience with budding sommeliers and to help develop both their careers and sense of curiosity."
Shangri-La began working with Basset last year, when he was invited to judge the group's first sommelier competition as well as lead a series of professional development programmes for its sommeliers.
In his new role, Basset will attend the group's second wine summit in July, where he will take sommeliers through a two-day seminar encompassing theory, practical skills and blind tasting, and be a judge again for Shangri-La's Best Sommelier Competition. He will attend a wine-paired dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing, at which wine connoisseurs, amateurs and top sommeliers from the group will be guests.
Bassett will also work with Lu on reviewing Shangri-La's extensive wine selection to ensure it is well structured, balanced and features bins from established wine estates worldwide, as well as artisanal wines from boutique producers.