Gerard Basset has won the World’s Best Sommelier Competition in Santiago, Chile.
The 52 year old French-born sommelier beat off competition from 51 other contestants and survived a demanding 40 minutes of practical tests to take the title.
Basset, recently appointed chairman of the Regional France panel at the Decanter World Wine Awards, is the first UK winner of the competition.
Paolo Basso of Switzerland and David Biraud of France finished second and third respectively.
This was Basset’s sixth attempt at winning the title, having reached the finals a number of times.
‘I feel as if I am on another planet,’ he said.
‘It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. In the end I just thought I’m going to enjoy it and make the judges happy, even if I don’t win.’
Each finalist had to complete a series of timed tasks including blind tasting and describing in detail four different wines, and identifying eight spirits in three minutes.
‘He puts great soul and passion into the job,’ said Danish sommelier Tim Vollerslev, a member of the judging panel.
‘I have been judging these competitions for 26 years and seen many competitors and he is definitely a world champion.’
This year’s competition was notable for the presence of four women sommeliers in the semi-final.
Véronique Rivest of Canada was awarded the Peter Lehmann Shiraz trophy and Julia Gosea of Romania picked up an Acqua Panna award, both for promising young sommeliers.
He will hold the title until 2013 when the next competition is held in Tokyo.
The Best Sommelier in the World competition is organised by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) and sponsored by Moet et Chandon. It takes place every 3 years.
Picture credit: Jean BERNARD
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Written by Fiona Beckett