Bondar Wines shines in 2023

By Halliday Promotion

12 Sep, 2023

Meet the McLaren Vale winery rewriting the rules on value.

Andre Bondar and Selina Kelly have achieved multitudes since starting their McLaren Vale-based winery in 2013, not in the least winning Halliday’s Best New Winery accolade in 2017. This year, Bondar Wines’ incredible portfolio of low intervention wines earned them a nomination for Best Value Winery for the second year running. In the 2024 Halliday Wine Companion, Bondar has six wines under $40 with a score of 95 or higher and nine Special Value wines under $50.

“We often hear our wines are under-priced,” jokes Andre. “To place among the top 12 value wineries of Australia shows us that the wines we make are hitting a sweet spot, which is always great, but especially at the moment with the soaring cost of living affecting a lot of people.” 

Andre Bondar and Selina KellyAndre Bondar and Selina Kelly.

Bondar’s home estate is the renowned Rayner vineyard in McLaren Vale, situated at the southern end of Blewitt Springs. Since taking over as custodians of the estate’s gnarly 50-year-old grenache vines and 70-year-old shiraz vines, more climate-appropriate varieties have been planted, including monastrell, cinsault, touriga nacional, sagrantino and counoise, plus further plantings of bush vine grenache. 

The older blocks on the vineyard are run without irrigation, with site dictating the style – a hands off winemaking approach allows the grapes to be heard with minimal winemaking artefact. “We work so hard to achieve beautiful balance in all of our wines no matter the pricepoint,” Andre says. “McLaren Vale’s mix of tradition and innovation provides a fantastic environment to grow and make wine.”

Andre and Selina’s dedication to sustainability practices extends beyond the vineyard. They’re part of the EcoVineyards project, which promotes the regeneration of native vegetation to boost regional biodiversity. “The next step in our viticultural journey is to begin the process of conversion to organic viticulture, another way we can see will elevate our flavours to a greater level.”

 Bondar violet hour

2022 Bondar Wines Violet Hour Shiraz 

Hailing from the cooler 2022 vintage, this version of Violet Hour sits in the more medium-bodied spectrum. Packed with more red fruit and spice than typical, it has a wonderful silky framework and tannins that flow effortlessly but build to a lovely dry, long finish. 

H. What do you love about this wine?
B. The true reflection of site and vintage are proudly on show in the 2022 Violet Hour. The deep sandy soils of our Blewitt Sands vineyard give rise to a spicy, elegant, highly aromatic shiraz with silky structure. It’s a pared back modern version of shiraz with plenty of spice and savoury detail to give balance and enough late grippy tannin to ensure it well cellar beautifully.

Drink with: Veal saltimbocca.

RRP $35 | Drink to 2032 | Find out more

Bondar Rayner shiraz

2021 Bondar Wines Rayner Vineyard Shiraz 

“From the two oldest blocks on the vineyard, planted 1950 and ’60. Deep, brooding crimson purple. This is a faithful reproduction of variety and place – a meaningless statement unless I add 'of the highest quality,' which it is. It's velvet in the mouth, and mines all the black fruits, dark chocolate, licorice and spice hoped for. The tannins are polished, the oak absorbed by the fruit. So it is also a faithful reproduction of the vintage.” – James Halliday, 97 points

H. What do you love about this wine?
B. It’s deeply flavoured with brooding dark fruits, and yet it carries that Rayner elegance of structure. Fine silky tannins create a wonderful mouth-filling shape without any heaviness at all. This is old-vine shiraz in all its glory, with incredible intensity of flavour and beautiful fine tannins.

Drink with: Barbecue beef short rib with potato mash and broccolini.

RRP $48 | Drink to 2036 | Find out more

Bondar chardonnay

2022 Bondar Wines Chardonnay

Sourced from a 400m elevation vineyard just south of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, this is a wine of great complexity and powerful fruit. The days are warm, but the nights are freezing, and the vines run steeply down an eastern facing hillside, such that the sun disappears for them hours earlier than other areas of this site. As a result, the power of the fruit is always kept in balance by big acidity. The resulting wine sits ideally in the Bondar framework of purity balanced with nuances of savoury flavour. 

H. What do you love about this wine?
B. The Bondar Chardonnay has long been a favourite wine of ours and of our cellar door customers. It is always fresh, with high acid balancing the powerful fruit flavours from the vineyard. Never lean, it has a lovely purity with licks of reduction and oak to balance.

Drink with: Tuna niçoise salad. 

RRP $38 | Drink to 2027 | Find out more

Bondar Rayner Grenache

2022 Bondar Wines Rayner Vineyard Grenache

Sourced from the oldest block of grenache on our 1950-planted Rayner vineyard in a cool vintage, leading to a light and bright example with wonderful fruit purity. This wine is always made in a pretty, modern style, picked early enough to catch the beautiful red fruits, but also late enough to get a mature and apparent structure fit for ageing. We use whole bunches in the ferment and extended time on skins to build aromatic complexity and mouthfeel. We also ferment in ceramic vessels, adding to the high-toned purity of the wine. 

H. What do you love about this wine?
B. Our vineyard straddles the border of McLaren Vale’s Blewitt Sands and Seaview districts. The Rayner grenache grows just as this transition begins to take place, with the slightest amount of loam in the sand. This gives the wine the wonderful pure, lifted aromatics of the sand, but there’s always an attractive generosity and breadth of structure that goes with that. It feels lovely to drink, so fresh and so juicy, and yet also light with enough savouriness to leave you wanting more.

Drink with: Porcini mushroom risotto with sage and parmesan.

RRP $40 | Drink to 2032 | Find out more

Bondar Midnight Hour

2022 Bondar Wines Midnight Hour Shiraz

Sourced entirely from the Rayner vineyard, this is shiraz made using 100% whole bunches in the ferment, a nod to the great wines of the Northern Rhone produced in this way that were an inspiration for us when we were travelling and learning our craft before Bondar Wines. This is a blend of two Shiraz blocks, one planted in1960 and the other in 1994. The technique brings immense complexity to the aroma, a dark and brooding fruit profile, and a sticky, chewy tannin profile that begs for protein.

H. What do you love about this wine?
B. When used to add complexity, spice, detail and enhanced structure, whole bunches in shiraz can be a thing of real beauty. It took us many years to be comfortable enough with our techniques to release this wine. The result is wonderful, a counterpoint to our more fruit driven Violet Hour, the Midnight Hour is wilder, darker and in some ways more intriguing.  

Drink with: Wood-fired pork chop with mustard and parsley gremolata.  

RRP $48 | Drink to 2037 | Find out more


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