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07 Oct 2018

R11 WOTY 2018

In September a large group of Essex members travelled down through France to Burgundy. The prinicple objective was to have a great holiday. The underlying objective was to enjoy some great wine! The account of this journey has been written by Rodney Hyne-Jones.

[Below here you can read an account of our WOTY by Rodney. At the bottom of the article you can click through to see more photos in the WOTY 2018 Gallery]

12th – 17th September 2018

This year our WOTY took us to the beautiful area of the Bourgogne with the imposing Hotel Château de Gilly, situated midway between Dijon and Beaune, being used as a base.


A total of 16 Porsches plus another car were signed up with a good mix taking part, Coupés, Targas and Cabriolets, including 3 air-cooled, and ranging from a 1990 964 Carrera 4 Cabrio (Jamie & Sally) to a 2016 991 S (Tony & Sue).
Most had taken the opportunity to extend the time away staying at various places en route on the Wednesday night - one group near Soissons and another in Chamouille between Laon and Reims.
Nearly all collected together the next morning on the Start/finish Line of the old Circuit de Reims-Geux, established in 1926 which was the venue for pre-war French Grand Prix and the first, what we now know as, Formula 1 in 1950. In addition, it was used for the Reims 12-hour, in competition with Le Mans, plus various motor cycle and cycling events. The circuit was originally 7.8km in the form of a triangle and, following various developments, it was increased to 8.3km in 1952. Mike Hawthorn was the first to break an average speed of 200km/hr in 1958 driving a Ferrari but the record was eventually made by Jack Brabham driving a Brabham BT19 in 1966 when he averaged 220km/hr over 48 laps in what was the last Formula One race to be held at Reims. Sports car racing continued until 1969 and motorcycle until 1972 when the circuit closed permanently, having run into financial difficulties. Even in the drizzle of a September morning and, despite it being on a normal main road, we could still feel the atmosphere of what took place there over 60 years ago when drivers such as Fangio, Hawthorn, Moss, Trintignant, Hill, Ligier etc were the stars. One can imagine the spectators in the stands and boxes.
We then made our way, in various groups, more or less down a route, suggested by Greg, to Gilly-Les-Cîteaux where our hotel, the Château Hôtel de Gilly, was located, between Dijon and Beaune, arriving during the afternoon when the rest also arrived from other directions.

There was an abbey there from the XIVth century however, following destruction during the Hundred Years’ War, the present building dates from the XVIth century and, indeed, the restaurant was the cellar for the Cistercian monks. Many changes were made during the French Revolution. After a somewhat chequered career, it was finally renovated and refurbished as a hotel in 1988.
We all gathered in the evening for drinks before a pleasant dinner in the beautiful Gothic-style restaurant during which our host, Hugo, welcomed us all in very good English, even touching the heart of one of our slightly more senior ladies!
The next morning, we drove down the Route des Grands Crus in brilliant sunshine past well-known names such as Clos Vougeot, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Ladoix-Serrigny and Puligny-Montrachet to Château de Chamirey in the village of Mercurey. This vineyard consists of 37 hectares, 15 of which are Premier Cru. Whilst the location was spectacular, the general feeling was that the wine-tasting experience left something to be desired.
In the afternoon we were left to our own devices and a number went into Beaune for sustenance. After an enjoyable day in the warm sunshine we all gathered in the evening for drinks before another delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Following a good breakfast on Saturday morning we all went in convoy to visit Château de Sauvigny- lès-Beaune, an old fortress dating from the XIVth century, having 27 hectares of vineyards, 7 of which are Premier Cru. On this occasion we were not there for wine-tasting but to see the Owner’s, Michel Pont a former rally driver, most extraordinary private collection of 35 Abarth racing/rally cars from the 50’s and 60’s, 25 prototype tractors for use in the vineyards, 300 motor bikes from 1903 to 1960 and more than 100 fighter and military aircraft and helicopters from the 40’s to the 60’s to say nothing of the vintage fire engines. In addition, nearly 4,000 exquisite model aircraft, motor cars and motor bikes were on display. The scale of the display certainly took everyone by surprise and even the other displays inside the château were fascinating.
Many spent more time there than anticipated and, consequently lunch was a bit of a non-event especially as, during the afternoon, the hotel had organised a special wine-tasting at the premises of a small negociant, Joseph Barbier, in the village of Gilly-lès-Cîteaux.  He, together with his sister, Adelaide who is a French diplomat acting as translator, gave a most interesting, fascinating and amusing presentation of his viticulture and we sampled several of the excellent wines he produced. Joseph was extremely enthusiastic, in typical French fashion, about his craft, even to the point of embarrassing his sister when she had to explain in English some sexual connotations of the tasting experience! It was a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon and, judging by the orders that were being placed at the end for delivery the next morning, a profitable one for him. Some Porsches were fairly weighed down on the return journey to the UK.

By the time we had all walked back to the hotel, it was time for, yes, pre-dinner drinks in the bar. At the subsequent very good dinner Greg Thompson was presented with a gift of wines of the area from all the participants by Martyn Molyneaux in appreciation of the excellent organisation plus, our host, Hugo, also presented a gift to R11 Division for us apparently behaving so well during our stay – not bad for a bunch of overgrown schoolboys with their toys!
On the Sunday morning we all departed from Château de Gilly in various directions. Some headed straight back to the UK whilst others took the opportunity to extend the trip either going south close to the Alps or heading for the Champagne area for one or two nights.
All in all, this WOTY proved to be a great success especially with the weather being so kind to us enabling those with Cabrios to take full advantage. The hotel was an excellent choice as a base and the surrounding area looked at its best during the harvest season.
Full credit must go to Greg for all the hard work and research he put in to ensure the success of yet another R11 WOTY.

WOTY 2018 Gallery

Click through to for further photos from this adventure.

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