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British wine trade figures receive top French accolade

Published:  09 January, 2018

Four prominent figures from the British wine trade have received the ‘Ordre du Mérite Agricole’ from the French Ambassador, Jean-Pierre Jouyet.

The four British individuals receiving the top accolade, which was founded in 1883 to recognise the exceptional services of those involved in the agricultural economy, were sommelier Gerard Basset OBE; former Sopexa managing director Anne Burchett; Edward Squires of Dedicated Wines and chairman of Farr Vintners, Stephen Browett.

They were praised for their work promoting and supporting the French wine industry at the ceremony held at W8 restaurant in Kensington, London on Monday, 8th January.

Speaking at the ceremony, His Excellency The French Ambassador in the UK Jouyet said the ‘Order de Mérite Agricole’ was “highly regarded” in France due to the importance of the agricultural and rural community.

“I am delighted to present this medal of ‘Chevalier of the Mérite Agricole’ to four eminent personalities of the UK wine trade who have done so much to promote French wines,” he said.

Basset, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer in recent months, was determined to attend the ceremony in person. 

He said it was “humbling” to have his work acknowledged and he was honoured to receive the ‘Order de Mérite Agricole’.

“Whilst I owe much of my success to my beloved, adoptive country and I am very proud to hold dual French and British nationality, I never forget that I was born and raised in France, so it is an enormous privilege to be bestowed with this commendation,” he said.

The merit is second only to the Legion d’Honneur, which is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte.