THE wife of one of the world’s leading wine experts who runs a popular New Forest eatery says she has been “bowled over” by messages of support after it emerged he has just months to live.
Famed sommelier and hotelier Gerard Basset (61), who owns Spot in the Woods café and B&B in Netley Marsh, was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer last year.
Gerard’s prognosis of 6-12 months, which was given in July, was only recently revealed in a tweet by wine writer Tom Stevenson and prompted a flood of sympathy for the couple and their son, Romané.
Nina told the A&T: “Messages of support and kindness have helped hugely and continue to do so.
“We are bowled over by the outpouring of love and kindness and the respect that so many people have shown him in recent days since Tom’s tweet and I cannot tell you how touched we are by them all.”
Gerard was diagnosed in 2017 and went on to have three months of chemotherapy. A major operation followed in February this year but by April he was suffering the same initial pain again.
Nina said: “We both hoped it wasn’t a return of the disease, but it was always in the back of our minds as a very real possibility.
“As it turned out we were right to be worried as the cancer had not only returned but to three different places – in fact, to each incision site from his operation.
“Many scans followed and in July we were told that palliative care was now the best option and we were offered to be under the care of a local hospice.
“As yet Gerard has not taken up the palliative care or the hospice’s care programme as he doesn’t feel mentally ready to give up the fight.”
He has been spending 7-10 days every three weeks in France for gentler chemo and radiotherapy, plus immunotherapy, that Nina said has not been made available in the UK.
She told the A&T: “It is a very slow gradual protocol which as yet hasn’t reaped rewards as his cancer is so aggressive and fast spreading. But we are hopeful that it may balance out soon and the immune therapy may start to kick in, in which case it may buy him some precious time.
“However, being in France, away from home for treatment, is difficult and stressful. Gerard was very ill whilst in France last week and it was a nightmare that saw me thinking I wouldn’t be bringing him home at all at one point as he was suffering so.”
The winner of a string of global wine-tasting titles, Gerard co-founded the Hotel du Vin chain. He was made an OBE in 2011 and this year was awarded one of France’s highest honours, the Order of Agricultural Merit, by the French ambassador to the UK.
Raised in France, Gerard originally trained as a chef but embarked on a career as a sommelier when he moved to the UK in the 1980s.
About 10 years ago he and Nina bought Busketts Lawn Hotel in Woodlands Road and transformed it into the wine-themed Hotel TerraVina, before relaunching this year as Spot in the Woods.