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Giuseppe Vaccarini – Best sommelier in the World 1978 and former president of ASI

My first meeting with Gérard Basset dates back to the beginning of the 1990s when he was a candidate in international sommelier competitions and I was on the jury. From the very beginning, Gérard had attracted my attention because of his great passion and an uncommon level of knowledge of the wines, showing immediately that he would have a great future. I immediately told him so, and he thanked me for the new encouragement to continue.
His first achievements weren’t enough for him, he wanted to get the highest awards, and over time, he got them, thanks to his stubborn perseverance.

I remember a couple of anecdotes that confirmed his talent as a taster, not only for wine, but also for other drinks. The first one is due to Gérard’s love of Coca-Cola – he drank a lot of it. In a casual meeting in Morocco, with Michele Chantôme, we decided to have him do a blind tasting of various types of colas. Gérard was a bit surprised but did not lose heart and faced the challenge, which he obviously won by recognizing all types of colas!

The second anecdote concerns his participation in the ASI world competitions that Gérard wanted to win, for the great benefits it would bring his life and career as a sommelier. He turned to me with great humility, and to some other experts as well, to get useful advice aimed at improving his performances in the practical tests. I was honoured by this request, but also gratified when in 2010, he finally won the long-awaited world title! However, as a great champion, Gérard was not satisfied with the victories and the conquered titles and he went in search of new challenges, such as dedicating himself to communicating what our profession is about to young people wishing to pursue a career as a sommelier.

When we met, he was the one asking me how he could improve in the profession. However, in more recent years I was the one who learned a new way of seeing the profession from Gérard. A beautiful lesson in life, but also a tribute to his professionalism.

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