Exciting times are these for Australian wine. Times when quality small producers are popping up everywhere across the viticultural landscape. Times when many of these producers that are striving to make delicious, lighter bodied, fresher, purer, more digestible wines that have a strong sense of place. And now, most significantly, it is a time when some of these producers are realising that it is in the vineyard, more specifically the way their vineyards are planted and the way they are managed, that will ultimately determine the quality and uniqueness of the wines they are able to produce. Bondar are certainly at the heart of this zeitgeist.
Started in 2012, Bondar is the vision of husband and wife team Andre Bondar and Selina Kelly. Andre, with a history as a winemaker in the Adelaide Hills and Selina with a background in marketing and law, have planted roots (literally) in the north of McLaren Vale, on the border of Blewitt Springs and the Beautiful View (Seaview) subregions. Their new home is the Rayner Vineyard on Chalk Hill Road in McLaren Vale, where the oldest vines date back to the 1950s. Plantings of bush vine Grenache are up to 50 years old and Shiraz up to 65 years are already in play, while newer, more close planted Counoise (one of the 13 Châteauneuf varieties) has been recently planted, and Mataro, Carignan and Cinsault are on the horizon. The vineyards are in the process of transitioning to progressively more organic management, which we are sure will see quality hit even greater heights. There will always be purchased fruit as well but ultimately, it seems likely that Bondar’s finest wines will come from their own sites.
Regardless of the source of fruit, Andre and Selina want to make, in their own words, ‘… wines that are bright, structured, mid-weight, yet concentrated in flavour, and with a savoury element’. And of course they want to make the finest quality possible. If the pair’s initial releases are anything to go by (and they are), we have much to look forward to from this producer. The early wines have had a terrific response and they also picked up James Halliday’s Best New Winery (2017).