Gerard Basset, dubbed one of the greatest wine professionals of his generation, has said he will fight his next challenge ‘head on’, after being diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.
Basset, who was one of the founders of boutique hotel stalwart Hotel du Vin, owns Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest but is absent from the business since receiving news of the diagnosis.
The Hampshire hotelier is the former world champion sommelier and the only person the hold three major wine titles – Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and MBA (Wine).
He co-founded the hugely successful chain Hotel du Vin in 1994 with Robin Hutson pioneering the brand and creating something new for the industry at the time.
He now runs the Hotel TerraVina with his wife Nina, but is away from the business while he receives treatment at Southampton General Hospital and the Spire hospital in the city and is facing a major operation early next year.
But the boutique hotel in Woodlands Road, Woodlands, is open as normal.
Basset has vowed to beat the disease, telling friends and wellwishers: “This is just another challenge I will fight head on – and win,” according to the Daily Echo.
His illness became public after Nina wrote a blog to explain his absence from the establishment they have run since 2007.
In a series of upbeat forecasts for 2018 she wrote: “Gerard will win his battle, as will my mum, and we will come through this period of challenge.
“Gerard may be conspicuous by his absence in the short term.
“But he remains very much a vital part of TerraVina and whilst we will miss him being with us whilst he concentrates on his treatment, we will all be cheering him on.”
Nina told the Daily Echo: “Gerard began to experience back pain and thought he’d pulled a muscle, but it didn’t go away so he went to see a doctor.
“When he received the diagnosis he took it brilliantly and tried to remain as positive as he could.
“As a family we are very pragmatic and philosophical. We were very strong as a couple when we were told the news.”
Gerard added: “I feel positive. Cancer care is much better than it was ten-20 years ago and will continue to improve. I’m in good hands.”
Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels commented: “Having shared the stage with Gerard a couple of times, during his long tenure as head judge for the Moët Sommelier of the Year contest, I have witnessed at first hand his uncompromising standards and mind-blowing knowledge. If the medics treating him have half the dedication he has shown to the wine and hospitality industries he will be in very good hands.”