Gerard Basset’s memoirs to be published

The long-awaited memoirs of legendary sommelier and wine professional Gerard Basset will launch later this month after hundreds of wine trade professionals raised money to see them published.

Gerard Basset, one of the most decorated wine professionals of his time, died in January 2019 after a long battle with cancer.

In the course of his career he added the letters OBE, MS, MW, MBA, OIV, and MSc to his title, and remains the first, and only, individual to hold the Master of Wine qualification simultaneously with the Master Sommelier and MBA Wine Business qualifications.

Basset wrote his memoirs while undergoing treatment, detailing “the life and wines of the world’s favourite sommelier.” The book recounts his journey from a small industrial town outside of Lyon and a difficult childhood, resolving to move to the UK after watching his football team, Saint-Etienne, lose to Liverpool in the European Cup in 1977, climbing up the hospitality career ladder in France and the UK, and finally receiving an OBE from Princess Anne at Windsor Castle in 2011.

After the news broke of his death, a group of wine professionals launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the memoirs to be published. Hundreds pledged their support for the project. Well-known writers such as Jancis Robinson, Sarah Jane Evans and Tim Atkin, former Berry Bros chief executive Dan Jago, and acclaimed sommeliers Ferran Centelles and Pascaline Lepeltier all contributed to the fundraising effort.

Called Tasting Victory, the book also charts Basset’s business successes: co-founding and selling the innovative Hotel du Vin chain and founding, with his wife Nina, the much-loved Hotel TerraVina in 2007, a venture which, though started well, was not withouts challenges.

As Basset writes, “For all the planning we did before we bought the hotel, the one business scenario we didn’t envisage was the likelihood of a worldwide recession.”

Taking in his early days as a kitchen porter and the 2008 economic crash, the memoirs not only tell Basset’s, but also shed light on how much the UK’s fine dining sector has changed throughout the years.

Tasting Victory will be available in hardback for £25 from 19 March.

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