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The Caterer

Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Gerard Basset, Hotel Terra Vina

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Gerard Basset, Hotel Terra Vina

Overall ranking: 61 (ranked 57 in 2011)Hotelier ranking: 13 (ranked 12 in 2011)

Gerard Basset, OBE, co-owner of Hotel TerraVina with his wife Nina and a co-founder of Hotel du Vin has a list of accolades that just keeps on growing. He remains the only person in the world to hold the combined titles of Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and Wine MBA. In 2010, he received the Catey's Special Award which recognises an outstanding contribution to hospitality, while this year saw him recognised with an OBE.

2012 also saw the Bassets merge Hotel TerraVina with Alan Murchison's 10 in 8 Fine Dining Group and announce plans to develop the hotel as a brand.

Gerard Basset - Career guide
French-born Basset originally came to England in 1984, when he got a job as a dishwasher and then a waiter in Merseyside.

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 hotels in Lyon and Marseilles.

In 1988 he returned to England, this time to work at country house hotel Chewton Glen in Hampshire, as a sommelier, where he quickly rose to head sommelier. It was here that he met Robin Hutson, and the pair went on to launch Hotel du Vin in 1994. The boutique chain grew to six hotels before selling to Malmaison owner MWB Group for £66.4m in October 2004.

Basset - who made £2.4m from the sale - took some time out from the hospitality business, but returned in 2008 to open Hotel Terravina in the New Forest near Southampton with his wife, Nina, whom he also met at Chewton Glen. Since winning his first wine award in 1982, Basset has gone on to dominate international sommelier competitions, culminating in World's Best Sommelier (2010), Wine Personality of the Year (2011) and Industry Legend (2011). This year saw him recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List with an OBE.

Gerard Basset - What we think

After 25 years in the wine business, Gerard Basset is widely regarded as one of the world's most eminent wine authorities but he's also a successful hotelier.
Basset achieved his dream of "reaching the top of my profession" by winning the World's Best Sommelier competition in 2010 (after six attempts which saw him gain three runners-up positions). The success was followed last year by more accolades from Harpers Wine & Spirit and International Wine Challenge (Personality of the Year) and Imbibe (Industry Legend) recognising his talents and continuing influence in the industry.

But Basset has more to his bow than just wine. As co-founder of Hotel du Vin and now successfully running TerraVina, he is also a respected hotelier and authority on the boutique sector, having been instrumental in defining what that constitutes in today's marketplace. The merger this year with Alan Murchison's 10 in 8 Fine dining group marks an interesting new chapter for Basset and they are now looking for finance to roll out a Terravina brand as well as creating a cookery and wine school. Gerard's wife Nina, who was always integral to the Terrravina business, has been appointed as the group's managing director.

In addition to his personal expertise as sommelier and hotelier, Basset is also recognised throughout the industry as having had a great influence on UK sommeliers as a genre. His dedication to mentoring and training means there's barely an establishment of note whose sommelier hasn't benefited at some time from Basset's wisdom: think Gordon Ramsay Holdings' and Hotel Du vin's Ronan Sayburn (now head of wine at the Dorchester collection) and Xavier Rousset, of Texture fame to name but two.

Basset also serves as the worldwide vice-president at the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a director of the Academy of Food & Wine and last year was elected the general secretary of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale.

Gerard Basset's ranking in the 2011 Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 >>

Basset receives OBE >>Terravina brand set to expand >>

Basset's TerraVina merges with Alan Murchison's 10 in 8 >>

Gerard Basset: A minute on the clock >>

Gerard Basset: The World's Best Sommelier >>

Hotel TerraVina website >>

Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Rick Bailey, Daniel Thwaites

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