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First winner of Gérard Basset Travel Bursary revealed

Published:  03 February, 2020

Lise Donier-Meroz, a sommelier at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume restaurant, has won the inaugural Gérard Basset Travel Bursary.

The award was judged by Nina and Romané Basset, Ronan Sayburn MS, Tim Atkin MW and Laura Rhys MS. The winner was announced at an event in London on Saturday attended by Basset’s friends at family.

Speaking for the judges, Nina Basset said the standard of entries to the competition was very high, but that Donier-Meroz best captured the spirit of the prize.

“We liked that she will use the funds to explore the whole South American continent, using eco forms of travel once she gets there,” Basset said. 

“She’s an exciting new talent, and we feel she will be a shining ambassador for sommellerie.  Gérard would definitely have approved!”

Donier-Meroz said: “Travelling has always been an important part of my life.  As soon as I started my apprenticeship at 16 years old, I put all my savings towards a South Africa trip, and it was on this unforgettable journey that I fell in love with wine and knew I wanted it to be my career.

“I have literally never felt more grateful than I do to the judges for what will be a life-changing opportunity. I am so proud to have been chosen to be a representative for the UK’s young sommeliers, and I will do so carrying the values and drive of my first ever inspiration and model, Monsieur Basset.”  

As well as the £5,000 bursary, Donier-Meroz will receive the assistance of the judges in making the most of her travels. She plans to visit less well-known wine-making regions in South America, such as Brazil and Uruguay, as well as Chile and Argentina.

The awards dinner began with guests being invited to share their memories of Gérard. Raymond Blanc led the room in a rendition of La Marseillaise in Gérard’s memory, reflecting the gratitide of the many French colleagues in the industry whom Basset had either mentored or employed.