Gerard Basset, the one-time World’s Best Sommelier who was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer last year, was one of four prominent figures working in the British wine industry to be honoured with one of France’s highest honours.
Alongside Anne Burchett, managing director of Sopexa; Stephen Browett, chairman of Farr Vintners; and Edward Squires of Dedicated Wines, Basset received the Order du Mérite Agricole from the French ambassador Jean-Pierre Jouyet at W8 restaurant in Kensington, London.
The Mérite Agricole is presented to individuals who have provided exceptional services within the agricultural economy and is second only to the Legion d’Honneur.
Basset, who owns Terra Vina in Netley March, Hampshire, with his wife Nina, said he was “humbled to have one’s work acknowledged” and was “truly honoured” to receive the award.
“Whilst I owe much of my success to my beloved, adoptive country and I am very proud to hold dual French and British nationality, I never forget that I was born and raised in France, so it is an enormous privilege to be bestowed with this commendation.”
Named the World’s Best Sommelier in 2010, Basset has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment in recent months and will have an operation in February.
He said that he and his consultants are very positive about the future. “I treat this situation like a sommelier competition: to win!”.
Image: from left to right, Bassett, Squires, Burchett and Browett.