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Liquid Icons & Gérard Basset Foundation Announce the Recipient of the Inaugural Hennessy Golden Vines® Diversity Scholarship in Spirits


5 OCTOBER 2022 | LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – Liquid Icons – the fine wine research and content production company founded by the late, great Gérard Basset OBE MW MS and his friend Lewis Chester DipWSET – are delighted to announce the recipient of the inaugural Hennessy Golden Vines® Diversity Scholarship in Spirits.

16 applications were submitted in 2022. The applicants come from a total of 11 different countries, comprising more than 12 different nationalities and ethnicities. More than half of all applicants were women.

The winner was chosen by a Judging Panel comprising: Ian Harris MBE DipWSET for the Gérard Basset Foundation, and Julien Pepin Lehalleur and Maurice Richard Hennessy for Hennessy Cognac.

The Inaugural Hennessy Golden Vines® Diversity Scholarship Recipient:

The Hennessy Golden Vines® Diversity Scholarship is worth £55,000, and will cover not only the costs of the Scholars’ WSET in Spirits Studies, but will also enable the Scholar to partake of an intense and varied 12-month Internship and Mentorship Programme with Hennessy in Cognac. The scholarship is being funded by Hennessy and the Gérard Basset Foundation from monies raised at the Golden Vines® Awards Ceremony & Dinner to be held in the Palazzo Vecchio Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence on 16th October 2022.

Jian Cao

Jian Cao, a Chinese man, Master’s student at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Portugal.

Julien Pepin Lehalleur, Brand Education & Training Director of Hennessy Cognac, commented: “Being a first for Hennessy, we were happily surprised to raise so much interest, both in the number of applicants but above all in the diversity and the quality of the profiles. It was anything but easy to select the “best” candidate as we found many interested and interesting profiles. We look forward to welcoming Jian Cao at Hennessy in Cognac in 2023 and are also happy to proudly support financially two other valuable candidates to pursue their WSET studies.”

In addition to awarding the Scholarship, the Judges were so impressed by two further candidates, that the Gérard Basset Foundation and Hennessy Cognac have offered to fund their WSET in Spirits Studies.

Nikan Jooyani

Nikan Jooyani, an Iranian lady, Head Waiter and Sommelier at Caffe Concerto, Italy

Dominique Solomon

Dominique Solomon, a South African lady, a Freelance Wine Writer and Content Creator, South Africa

About Liquid Icons

Liquid Icons is a fine wine research and content production company founded by two friends to “do stuff in wine” – the late, great Gérard Basset OBE MW MS and Lewis Chester DipWSET. We create first-class original content and research about the world’s greatest fine wines and spirits. Our work encompasses motion picture, industry research, recognition and celebration of wine and spirits excellence, charitable and fundraising activities, as well as educational initiatives.


About the Gérard Basset Foundation

Set up to honour the legacy and memory of Gérard Basset OBE MW MS by addressing the wine industry’s most pressing issues through education, training & mentorship, the Gérard Basset Foundation comprises a multidisciplinary team of industry-leading professionals as its Trustees: Nina Basset FIH, Romané Basset, Ian Harris MBE DipWSET, and Jancis Robinson OBE MW.


About Hennessy

A Prestigious and Responsible world Leader: Present in 160 countries, exporting more than 99% of its production, Maison Hennessy plays a unique role in the wines and spirits industry. A market leader in its field, it has carved out a niche in various cultures, keeping its roots in its native Cognac where all production takes place. With one of the biggest eaux-de-vie reserves in the world (more than half of the cognac sold worldwide bears its label), Hennessy blends craft and modernity, transfer and disruption, everyday and exceptional.




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