Bondar's bright future

By Halliday Promotion

31 Aug, 2022

Get to know McLaren Vale's shining star.

Andre Bondar and Selina Kelly have been making wine under the Bondar Wines label since 2012, from grapes grown in McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. In its 10 short years, Bondar has been awarded Halliday's Best New Winery (2017), received countless trophies at the McLaren Vale wine shows, earned a 5-red-star winery rating, and more recently was shortlisted for the 2023 Best Value Winery.

Andre's career started in 2001. After completing vintages around the world, he returned home to make wine at Nepenthe in the Adelaide Hills. He then joined Mitolo in McLaren Vale to learn all there is to know about making wine in the region.

Andre Bondar and Selina Kelly sitting in the barrel roomAndre Bondar and Selina Kelly.

When it comes to winemaking, Andre has a hands-off approach. He says place dictates style, and his style is allowing the site to speak. "We do a lot of work in the vineyard to achieve our house style. There's an emphasis on canopy management so there's an evenness across the block, and a balance between bunches and leaf area. It also ensures that those bunches receive a healthy amount of dappled light as they ripen.

"During the winemaking process we use minimal inputs, wild fermentation and techniques such as whole bunches, extended time on skins, and we pick the fruit earlier to achieve our balanced, bright wines."

Selina was working as a lawyer when she realised the corporate world wasn't driving her passion. In love with the world of wine, Selina cut her teeth at the Barossa's Hentley Farm, before becoming the marketing manager at Yangarra and Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard.

Rayner's VineyardBondar's Rayner Vineyard.

In 2014, Andre and Selina found their home at the iconic Rayner Vineyard, located in Chalk Hill. The vineyard is set on a hillside, bordered by Blewitt Springs and the township of McLaren Vale. The original vine plantings date back to the '50s, and produce shiraz and grenache (what the region does best). The duo have since close-planted counoise, bush vine grenache and mataro, cinsault, touriga nacional and sagrantino.

"The vision was (and remains) to make wines that are bright and pure, finely structured, mid-weight yet concentrated in flavour, with a savoury element," Andre and Selina say.

They also say being in control of the winemaking process from picking to bottling means they're able to ensure the quality of the wine along every step of the way. "Whether you are paying $30 or $80 for a bottle of our wine, it's so important to us that the quality of that wine should always surpass your expectations."

Flagship wine

2021 Bondar Rayner Vineyard Grenache

2021 Bondar Rayner Vineyard Grenache

A showcase of persimmon, Seville orange and the pithiest pucker from a sour cherry I am yet to experience. Raspberry bon-bon shifts to the domineering flavour with air. The tannins, white pepper-clad and moreish. Sandy, saline and gritty. Very fine. A protean expression, shifting endlessly with air to a succulent vibrato. Entrenched in the pantheon of the Vale – Ned Goodwin MW, Halliday Wine Companion, 96 points.

RRP $40 | Drink to 2027

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