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Place of Changing Winds

A Special, High-density Vineyard on the Southern Foothills of Mount Macedon

Place of Changing Winds is the vineyard project of Bibendum’s founder and owner Robert Walters. It is a single site in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria that Walters and his team began planting in 2012. Walters had searched for almost five years to find the right location, which turned out to be in a hamlet called Bullengarook, on the southern foothills of Mount Macedon, about one-hour north-west of Melbourne. To the best of our knowledge, this area was called Warekilla by the original inhabitants, the Wurundjeri people. This means ‘Place of Changing Winds’, a characteristic of the site that still holds true today.

‘No compromise, no regrets’ is the motto here. Rob has drawn on his years of experience observing many of the great growers of the world and translating to his setting what he considered to be best practices. The methods applied are labour-intensive and designed to maximise soil and vine health and foster a strong connection between the plant and its environment—and thus realise an expression of place in the resultant wines. 

The elevation is high (500-plus metres), and average rainfall is typically between 700 and 900mm. It’s a genuinely cool site with cold nights and a massive diurnal range, which Pinot and Chardonnay love. In summer, the range can often exceed 20°C or more, which leads to heavy morning dews and strong frosts. The soil is eroded quartz, sandstone and quartzite over clay and silt, as well as some eroded basalt from a rare form called mugearite. The bedrock is over 400 million years old and was mostly formed at the bottom of the ocean in the Ordovician Period. In simple terms, it is rocky, gravelly soil, historically known as Bullengarook gravel.

“Much of of our practice is drawn from a historical approach that has long been associated with quality. This knowledge was initially gifted in one way or another.” Robert Walters

The vines have been planted to a high density of mostly between 12,000 and 33,000 vines per hectare, with almost 45,000 vines over 3.1 hectares. No synthetic chemicals are used and the practice is adapted to these very high densities. It is certainly a different, much more labour-intensive and expensive approach, with more than one full-time person per hectare required in the vines.

Together with the Estate wines, Place of Changing Winds also produces some Syrah from the Heathcote region (about 130km north of the cellars) and some Syrah and Marsanne from the Harcourt area (from cooler granitic soils closer to Bullengarook). The team works closely with growers at both sites. These plots are managed organically (not certified) and to full POCW specifications. The approach has always been to produce reds of great finesse and drinkability—Syrah for Pinot lovers!

Place of Changing Winds was awarded the 2021 New Vineyard of the Year by the Young Gun of Wine Awards, and Best New Winery of the Year 2022 by the Halliday Wine Companion Awards.

Currently Available

Place of Changing Winds Syrah No.2 2021

Place of Changing Winds Syrah No.2 2021

This wine is a blend of both Heathcote and Harcourt fruit. It has serious intensity, Nebbiolo-like tannins and genuine age-worthiness. It was matured in a range of wood (mostly neutral) and concrete vessels for 16 months, before resting in steel tank for six months prior to bottling in late February 2023. It really benefits from plenty of air at this stage in its life, so we encourage drinkers to decant it as early as they can. It gets better and better.

“A blend of Heathcote and Harcourt fruit, brought to life in mostly old oak and concrete for 16 months, then to stainless before bottling. It’s 70% whole bunch or so. While juicy and thick set it has a good deal of fruit, spice and herbal information, both perfume and palate does dark cherry, choc-mint, sage leaf, blood orange – with fine, firm, al dente tannin in the vein of nerello mascalese or similar. It’s a brooding and deep red, chewy and potent but with levity on its side. Charming in the moodier frame.”
93 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“Good depth of red with a purple tint, and aromas of black berries, subtle herbs and spices, with a floral/violet note and a trace of iodine; the palate is full and rounded, with liberal drying tannins, the medicinal herbs chiming in again towards the finish and adding a cleansing note of bitterness. This should well reward a few years in the cellar.”
93 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
“Deep crimson. Definitely Syrah not Shiraz on the nose – fragrant and positively racy. Bitter redcurrant fruit on the palate and lots of character. Hint of treacle and then a bonedry finish. Even without decanting this wine was pretty charming and expressive. Not too intense but well balanced and already accessible.”
16.5 points, 16.5 points, jancisrobinson.com
"The 2021 Harcourt and the Syrah No 2 wines are tasted side by side here today, and the context is incredibly useful in determining their similarities and differences. Firstly, these are both classy wines. Elegant, complex, spicy and seamlessly constructed, they are both a pleasure to drink. Structurally, and flavor wise, they are very different. Here, in the 2021 Syrah No 2, the tannins are far more grippy and pronounced. As a tannin lover, this is no problem for me. They are savory and lend weight and gravitas to the fruit. The fruit flavors that course across the tongue are darker, denser and less mineral than those in the Harcourt Syrah. This has notes of blood plum, cocoa, sweet tobacco, mulberry and blackberry. The aromas include a distinct sense of crunchy/crackling autumn leaves underfoot. This is an evocative wine—very smart. "
93 points, Erin Larkin, The Wine Advocate
Place of Changing Winds Syrah No.2 2021
Place Of Changing Winds Annus Horribilis 2020

Place Of Changing Winds Annus Horribilis 2020

Everyone will have a story to tell about the year 2020. Some will be far worse than others. A year already challenging enough for the team at Place of Changing Winds was made even worse when a terrible frost wiped out something like three-quarters of their Pinot Noir and 100% of their Chardonnay. In Rob’s words, “In the context of a global pandemic, I don’t want to overstate things, but it hurt us badly. The 2019 harvest had been our first vintage release, and we had been so excited to see what 2020 would bring. Mother Nature broke our hearts (and almost broke the bank).” On the spring night of October 1st, with budburst just beginning, the temperature plummeted to below -3°C at about midnight, and it stayed there for six hours. It was a freak frost. Despite the team’s best efforts—running the frost fans and lighting fires—pretty much all the buds and any young growth was destroyed, and with them went the crop. In the end, the battered POCW Pinot vines produced a minuscule 50 grams of fruit per vine on average, from 28,000 productive vines. The result was barely enough fruit to produce 100 dozen bottles of wine. So, there is only a single Place of Changing Winds Pinot Noir released from the 2020 vintage. While the name of the wine, Annus Horribilis—the Latin for a year of disaster or misfortune—describes the season well, the wine is anything but. Instead, we think it is rather beautiful. But it’s a very particular style that this vineyard may never make again. Therefore, Rob and Remi have decided to bottle the wine under a one-off label. If you like pretty, perfumed yet structured Pinots, then you should enjoy this. It’s fine-boned, light bodied, powdery, very delicate and yet savoury. It will likely age well, as the balance is there. But it will also drink well young. Of course, you can drink it when you want to. If you open a bottle now, or at five or 10 years, and you love it then, well, we suppose there is no reason to wait any longer.

So, there is only a single Place of Changing Winds Pinot Noir released from the 2020 vintage. While the name of the wine, Annus Horribilis—the Latin for a year of disaster or misfortune—describes the season well, the wine is anything but. Instead, we think it is rather beautiful. But it’s a very particular style that this vineyard may never make again. Therefore, Rob and Remi have decided to bottle the wine under a one-off label. If you like pretty, perfumed yet structured Pinots, then you should enjoy this. It’s fine-boned, light bodied, powdery, very delicate and yet savoury. It will likely age well, as the balance is there. But it will also drink well young. Of course, you can drink it when you want to. If you open a bottle now, or at five or 10 years, and you love it then, well, we suppose there is no reason to wait any longer.

Place Of Changing Winds Annus Horribilis 2020
Place of Changing Winds Harcourt Syrah 2022

Place of Changing Winds Harcourt Syrah 2022

This is the second release from Harcourt. It comes from a very specific plot in Victoria’s Bendigo G.I., on the foothills of Mt Alexander. With its pure granite soils and mild climate, the POCW team believe that Harcourt is one of Australia's most exciting terroirs for Syrah. 50% whole bunches were used, and the wine underwent almost two years’ maturation. The initial period was in older 600- and 1,500-litre Stockinger casks, with the final eight months in 2000-litre Stockinger. It was bottled in late December 2023. It’s a wine that combines lifted perfume and finesse with excellent depth and fine structure.

“50% whole bunch; two years in oak. An intense and utterly compelling wine, driven by the spice and outright perfume on the nose; then the elegant and medium body, with a minimum of 30 years riding on its superfine tannins and balance; the rare granitic sands are the key. 2642 bottles, 60 magnums produced.”
96 points, James Halliday, The Weekend Australian
“Deep and bright purple-red colour, with nutmeg and assorted spices on the nose, the palate medium full-bodied and smoothly textured, with a slight ferrous bitterness on the aftertaste, and a slight dip in the middle, accentuated by the grip on the finish. This is young and somewhat undeveloped: it promises more if cellared a while.”
94 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
“From a vineyard in Harcourt North which is in Bendigo wine region. Wild fermentation, spends time in Stockinger, larger format barrels, gets 50% whole bunches in the ferment. The site is specified for its sand and granite soil profile. Highly perfumed, red berries, some cranberry zestiness, wild scree and herbs in a pepper-meets-alpine greenery kind of whiff, some aniseed, touch of clove. It sits at medium weight, slinks along all pretty within a web of lacy, talc-like tannin and finishes with lightly puckering dryness. Almost dart-shaped and feels good for it. Flavours match the bouquet, per se. It’s delicious, fine and right.”
93 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
Place of Changing Winds Harcourt Syrah 2022
Place of Changing Winds Harcourt Marsanne Roussanne 2022

Place of Changing Winds Harcourt Marsanne Roussanne 2022

This comes from the same vineyard as the Harcourt Syrah. As always, the grapes were picked flavour ripe, pressed gently and sent straight to barrel (500- and 228-litre) and 220-litre Wineglobe for fermentation and aging. Malolactic conversion happened naturally. After 12 months in cask and Wineglobe, the wine was racked to tank for an additional eight months’ maturation before being bottled at the end of November 2023. It has the power and richness of previous releases, yet with good vibrancy thanks to Harcourt’s soils, the cooler year and the inclusion of good levels of Roussanne in the blend. It will certainly age, gaining more honeyed characters, but it’s delicious now. 

“Some roussanne in the mix. The wine is matured in a mix of barrels and those alien-technology-looking, Wineglobe, glass, ovoid vessels. This is such a wonderful wine its success is in its concentration of flavour and texture (fleshy and chalky at the same time), its vivid sense of hallmarks of the variety (bitter lemon, preserved lemon, herbal detail, minerality) And a general sense of energy. It sits at medium weight. Its stains the palette gently, its perfume is inviting and ultra-pleasing, that it drinks with such ease belies its complexity. Wickedly enjoyable.”
94 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
"The 2022 Harcourt Marsanne contains Roussanne as well; they go together like tomato and basil. On the nose, the wine is discreet, almost hesitant, despite having been in the glass almost 30 minutes. In the mouth, it is ample, spicy and rich, with undulating fruit and phenolic weight, like a blanket. There is more texture than flavor here, as the varieties tend to lean on their phenolic structure for impact. Having said that, layers of cheesecloth, cantaloupe, white pepper, roasted star anise and flame-grilled pineapple make their presence felt. This is an intriguing wine, one that is demanding gentle coaxing; its stubbornness to yield is both infuriating and compelling. 14.5% alcohol, sealed under Diam."
93+ points, Erin Larkin, The Wine Advocate
Place of Changing Winds Harcourt Marsanne Roussanne 2022
Place Of Changing Winds Heathcote Syrah 2021

Place Of Changing Winds Heathcote Syrah 2021

This wine is now released with an extra year’s aging. It comes from an east-facing plot of 20+-year-old vines rooted in the red Cambrian soils of the Mount Camel Range in Heathcote’s north. Although this sub-region can produce some of Heathcote’s most refined wines, it is still an area that lends itself to growing powerful Syrah, so it gets an additional year in cask. The 2021 spent its first year in a range of Stockinger cask and concrete tank before being blended to one 2,000-litre Stockinger cask for the remainder of its maturation. It was bottled at the end of November 2023 after 33 months’ aging. It is a gorgeous, dark-fruited expression of this famous region. At 13% alcohol, it is in no way heavy and, in fact, is quite the “refreshing” contrast to many wines released from the area. Only around 10% new oak used.

“There’s a deal of oak flavour here but it combines well with the bold nature of the fruit. Toast, cedarwood and cream characters wrap around black cherries, plums and peppercorns, the (assertive but integrated) tannin then threaded finely. The finish is impressively prolonged, and while it feels ripe and flavoursome it’s also juicy; refreshing even.”
93+ points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
“Larger format Stockinger barrels and concrete make up a lot of the wine’s vessel maturation profile. The vineyard from northern climes in Heathcote. It spent nearly three years resting before bottling. A wild card, a surprise package. A wine of energy, febrile tension, freshness and drawl. It’s all wild, brambly red berries, dusty, fine tannin, blood orange (pleasing) sweet-bitterness, fine, dark chocolate mellow qualities and faint game meat savouriness. It feels decidedly light and bright, sure, complex, layered, some intensity, but the vim and vigour here is undeniable. This will slake a thirst.”
94 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
Place Of Changing Winds Heathcote Syrah 2021
Place of Changing Winds Syrah No.2 2022

Place of Changing Winds Syrah No.2 2022

This wine is a blend of Heathcote (66%) and Harcourt (34%) Syrah. Although this is the “entry-point” red, it gets the same attention to detail as the other cuvées, and even here, it has serious intensity, good tannins and ageworthiness. About 70% whole bunches were used, and the wine matured in a range of casks (primarily large Stockinger) for the first year before resting in tank for the rest of its maturation. It was bottled in late December 2023. It’s a spicy, cool Syrah/Shiraz that will drink well young but can be aged with confidence.

“‘Vibrant and lifted fresh red berries and purple flowers,’ wrote [Ben] Mullen, giving this a top-six result. ‘Medium bodied on the palate, it had flow of tannin from fruit and oak with the fruits flowing to great drive and tension of acidity. Had some real savoury elements to the wine also, fresh crushed leaves and autumnal vibes to it showing from the whole bunch. Good weight, texture and length. Such a well balanced rendition of style of syrah. Lovely.’”
Young Guns of Wine, younggunsofwine.com
“This is a combo of the Heathcote and Harcourt vineyard sources. There’s around 70% whole bunch used. It feels friendly and easy drinking in its way, despite also holding a sense of inkiness and depth. Dark cherry, ripe plum, choc-liquorice with swathes of eucalyptus, dried green herb, pepperberry, lifted myrtle-like pungency – all attractive, all just so. A smooth ride, a pleasure zone red of evenness and general syrah-isms. Cool as.”
92 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
Place of Changing Winds Syrah No.2 2022
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“Place of Changing Winds – the place and the vineyard – may well be the most exciting ‘new’ development in Australian wine. It will jump straight on to elite lists of Australian wine producers. You could describe this endeavour in one word: uncompromised.” Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front

“This extraordinary high-density vineyard is slotted between Mount Macedon and Mount Bullengarook. It’s the brainchild of the committed and obsessive Robert Walters, the founder of importer Bibendum, boasting a dazzling array of boutique wine luminaries in its portfolio. Through his many connections and much research comes Place of ChangingWinds, known as Warekilla in the local Wurundjeri language. It’s a rocky site at 500m elevation, surrounded by forest. The whole farm covers 33ha but vines comprise just 3.1ha, planted to 44,000 vines. A high-density site of pinot noir and chardonnay, ranging from 12,500 to 33,000 vines/ha: there is nothing like this in Australia, or even in Burgundy (where 10,000 vines are deemed high density). No expense has been sparedand the level of detail is nothing short of extraordinary.”

★★★★★ Halliday Wine Companion

Country

Australia

Primary Region

Macedon Ranges, Victoria

People

Owner: Robert Walters

Manager: Rémi Jacquemain

Key staff: Lachlan McCallum, Romuald Cacheux

Availability

National

Most Recent Offer

  • Place of Changing Winds
    Place of Changing Winds
    Today, we offer the Place of Changing Winds (POCW) Grower Series wines, mainly from the...
    Today, we offer the Place of Changing Winds (POCW) Grower Series wines, mainly from the cooler, later-ripening 2022 season. These wines are the pro...

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