Log in for prices and ordering

Bondar

Top of the Crops—“Relentless Quality” Single Vineyard Grenache, Shiraz and Chardonnay
Bondar
Who says nice guys finish last? It’s been a great twelve months for Andre Bondar and Selina Kelley. Not only was Bondar crowned the Dux of the 2023 Len Evens Tutorial, but the pair were also immensely proud to find their still young label at number 52 in The Wine Companion’s Top 100. With words like these, why wouldn’t they be; “Forget, if you can, the fact that few wineries can match Bondar on value,” wrote Campbell Mattison. “Instead, concentrate on the fact that Bondar’s McLaren Vale wines are full of energy, drive, fruit power and more. Bondar’s wines are of such relentless quality that everything produced here is almost guaranteed to be good.” We could not have put it better ourselves. 

You don’t need a LET-quality palate to recognise that the wines from Bondar’s Rayner vineyard have never tasted finer. Focused on soil health and bringing more structure to the inherent generosity gifted by Rayner’s sandy soils, Bondar’s intricate, organic-leaning approach to viticulture is paying ever-higher dividends. So much so that with Rayner ship-shape, Andre and Selina can now celebrate the best of McLaren Vale beyond their base camp.

Andre Bondar can’t hide his excitement that he is now working with Shiraz from the marquee Hickinbotham vineyard in Clarendon. Biodynamically farmed by Pete Fraser and his elite viticultural team, this dry-grown site was first planted on rocky, ironstone-rich red soils in 1971. Clarendon sits considerably further inland than Bondar’s Rayner Vineyard, and at 250m, the cooler climate and unique soils produce a very different expression of Shiraz. “Hickinbotham is finer, with a ferrous quality and red fruits; there is a tightness and coiled power,” explains Andre. “It’s lighter in alcohol and more savoury and mineral—all the things I love in great Shiraz.” Bondar’s first release is nothing short of exceptional. 

This year also marks Bondar’s second Grenache from Sue Trott’s Wilpena vineyard in the heart of Blewitt Springs. Despite its proximity to Rayner, the site generates a darker fruit expression with more grip and structure, albeit rendered with considerable finesse. It’s another radiant, earth-to-glass wine from a variety Bondar believes translates the diverse altitudes, aspects, and soil types of McLaren Vale with the greatest fidelity. 

As for the vintages, the cooler conditions of 2022 and 2023 fit the Bondar style like a glove. Sure, yields could have been better, but the long hang times and ideal rainfalls provided model conditions to chase down the velvety elegance, lively freshness and heightened structural frame Bondar craves in its wines. “They are both great years for our wines,” says the Len Evens Dux. When a self-effacing, tell-it-like-it-is grower like Andre Bondar uses the word great, you can take that to the bank. 

The Wines

Bondar Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2023

Bondar Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2023

Bondar has made its incisive Chardonnay from the same vineyard in the Adelaide Hills since 2013. The source is the 30-year-old Rathmine vineyard in Echunga, which sits at 450 metres on stony, shallow clay loam over a limestone base. The fruit comes from the steep, east-facing slope planted with the Bernard 76 clone.

All of Bondar’s fruit is handpicked in the cool of the early morning, whole bunch-pressed and fermented naturally in older French oak, with one new Stockinger foudre accounting for approximately 25% of the blend. Bondar does not cool the fermentation to encourage mouthfeel and nutty, complex flavours. The picture is completed by full malolactic conversion and no stirring of the lees to preserve fruit purity. From the cool, late 2023 harvest, it’s perhaps the most coiled and bracing Chardonnay Bondar has released to date. Yet there’s so much fine texture and savoury flavour to balance the wine’s highwire energy. 




“Lime and lime rind, floral, nutty and spicy, almond and white peach. It’s a lively wine, excellent intensity, a bold and juicy cut of acidity, so much zing, yet folded into gently creamy nutty and biscuity folds of savoury goodness. There’s a slight struck match character, and the finish is all sweet lime and spice, with terrific length and saline spicy character. Classic fine-boned Hills Chardonnay here, and so lovely.”
95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Bondar Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2023
Bondar Rayner Vineyard Shiraz 2022

Bondar Rayner Vineyard Shiraz 2022

This exceptional Shiraz is drawn from the two oldest blocks in the Rayner Vineyard, planted in 1950. Three-quarters of the fruit comes from Block 24 in the northeast corner of the vineyard, on deep sandy soils with ironstone rocks, dry-grown and organically managed. This portion gives wonderful fragrance and elegant structure. The remainder is cropped from Block 1, in the northwestern corner of the vineyard, laying in a cool gully. Dry-grown and organically managed, the shallow clay on the limestone base builds fine structure around the prettier, fleshier sandy portion.

Fermented wild with 20% whole bunches, the wine spent two weeks on skins before 18 months’ aging in mostly used French hogsheads (with 5% new oak as part of the final blend) and was bottled without fining or filtration.







“Blueberry, blackberry, mint and sage, seaweed, some liquorice and biscuit spice. It’s full-bodied, but only just, saline and savoury, black olive, sweet blue and black fruit, raspberry ripple, ripe fine-grained but insistent tannin, oyster shell and cool peppermint, it’s thoroughly regional but has depth and presence. Lots to like here, and it feels classic McLaren Vale in character, though turned out with a light and deft touch in the winery. Ripe tannin rolls out the red raspberry carpet on a finish of fine length.”
95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
“Among the finest shiraz in the Vale, with the meager volume, subsequent concentration and tannic delivery of 2022 serving the plush, aromatic, full-bodied style well. Boysenberries, anise, pepper and ferrous tannins, forceful without compromising the tenacious, juicy flow of the fruit. Textbook Vale shiraz.”
95 points, Ned Goodwin MW, jamessuckling.com
“Dense and inky core, deep purple at the rim. Mulberry, clove, iodine, and mocha aromas. Dense and weighty with plush blue and purple fruits driving the core. The fruit sits fresh and lively though, alongside clove and vanilla spices, with a deep iodine ferrous undercurrent. Fine grained tannins keep it rolling along and it finishes very long. It has a classic Vale plushness but without overworking the fruit. Honestly, a bargain at the price.”
95 points, Stuart Knox, The Real Review
Bondar Rayner Vineyard Shiraz 2022
Bondar Rayner Vineyard Grenache 2023

Bondar Rayner Vineyard Grenache 2023

Bondar’s high-toned and beautifully pure Grenache is sourced from the 1970 block in the Rayner Vineyard. The vines sit on very sandy soils (part of the Pirramimma sandstone geology) and are dry-grown and organically managed. Facing east on the site's western side, these low-yielding vines produce small bunches and berries and miss out on the hot late-afternoon sun during summer.

Seeking a pretty but savoury style, the Bondar team picks their Grenache fruit a little earlier than many of their peers, helping to capture the fruit’s red fruit and herbal characteristics. To further aid in building structure and longevity, 20% bunches are used in the natural ferments. The wine is aged for six months in ceramic eggs and French barrels. From the coolest of a troika of La Niña vintages, there’s more lacy red fruits this year even if the result is the same. This is McLaren Vale Grenache in its purest guise.

“Very good Grenache here, it’s lively and gently herbal, raspberry, ripe cherry and almond, quite some spice and dried flower perfume too, a fair bit of mint. Juicy ripe cherry and red fruit, the tannin is a little raspy and stony, and really adds something to the wine. There’s also some raspberry friand sweetness, and it offers mouth-perfume, and excellent length. It’s crisp, but flavoursome. It’s not Blewitt or Clarendon, but gee, it makes an emphatic statement about how good McLaren Vale Grenache can be. So lovely. Juciy juicy, Nice nice. I’m kind of 94.5 on this, but hey, let’s go.”
95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Bondar Rayner Vineyard Grenache 2023
Bondar Higher Springs Grenache 2022

Bondar Higher Springs Grenache 2022

Sue Trott’s Wilpena vineyard lies in the heart of Blewitt Springs. The vines were planted in 1952 and are dry-grown on deep sand. It faces steeply east—an uncommon aspect in McLaren Vale—and so misses out on much of the warm late-afternoon sun. Of this site, Andre Bondar gushes: “Sometimes when you walk into a vineyard that is this beautiful, you can’t help but think that it must make amazing wine.”  Know that feeling, Dre.

According to Bondar, the Trott vineyard tends to a darker fruit profile than his Rayner site, alongside impressive power and structure. To this end, the parcel was split into two ferments, one with 80% bunches and the other with 10%, to aid in building fine structure and bring out the best of the site’s darker-fruited profile. Hand-bottled after 10 months in seasoned Stockinger demi-muid, it’s a shining, savoury expression that will continue to wow for years and years.






“Good depth of youthful colour, dark red and attractive. Meaty traditional grenache aromas meet the nose, rich and exotic, deep berry fruit, florals, spice and nutty old oak back it up. It's fleshy and ripe to taste, with lovely length and slightly mouth-puckering tannins in support. Delicious.”
95 points, Ralph Kyte-Powell, The Real Review
“Cherry, raspberry, almond, dried roses and thyme, with quite some spice and a little cedar. It’s medium-bodied, cherry and dried herb, a little blood orange in the mix, tannin is firm with a light graininess and grip, with a sappy freshness, and a dry pumice stone tannin finish of excellent length, some orange peel in the aftertaste. It has a good volume of fruit, yet its pretty savoury in style too, with an amaro twist. More to come, I expect.”
94+ points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
Bondar Higher Springs Grenache 2022
Bondar Clarendon Shiraz 2022

Bondar Clarendon Shiraz 2022

Andre Bondar can’t hide his excitement that he is now working with Shiraz from the famed Hickinbotham vineyard in Clarendon. Biodynamically farmed, this dry-grown elevated site was first planted on rocky, ironstone-rich red soils in 1971. It’s a revered site in SA circles, supplying Penfolds Grange, Eileen Hardy and Clarendon Hills, among others, over the years. Clarendon sits considerably further inland than Bondar’s Rayner Vineyard and, at 250m altitude, produces a very different expression of Shiraz. “It’s finer, with ferrous quality and red fruits; there is a tightness and coiled power,” explains Andre.

In a very Bondar way, the winemaking does not detract from the purity of the site. Around 30% bunches were used in the ferment, and 20% of the wine matured in a one-year-old Stockinger demi-muid. “Year one was an investigation into how this fruit looks relatively unhindered, and the results are beautiful,” says Bondar. “It gives us confidence to bring in some technique in the coming years.” It’s an intoxicating addition to Bondar’s already star-studded portfolio.





“All the blueberries, dried raspberry friand, spice, quite some perfume here too, along with black olive and thyme. It’s medium to full-bodied, somewhat earthy and ferrous, acidity feels bright but well settled, toasted hazelnut, iodine, with impeccable length. Wow, this is a wine of presence and intensity, though not at the expense of charm and drinkability. So good.”
96 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
“Deep ruby core with a brightness of purple shining at the rim. Blackberry, smoked beef, and ironstone aromas. Blue fruits at its core, dark slate and beef stock complexities roll across the palate with a tight coil of power that will take time to unfurl. Even in its current state of tension, it lingers incredibly long and remains balanced to the end. Time in a decanter before serving will be well worth it.”
96 points, Stuart Knox, The Real Review
Bondar Clarendon Shiraz 2022

“We often think of grenache as a style-choice: hefty or light, ripe or tart. The best ones seem to do both, swinging back and forth on the palate at once. At Bondar, sundrenched and sea breeze-swept, Andre and Selina’s Rayner vineyard captures the tension between those two poles in a generous manner. Fragrant, finessed and fruitful.” Jane Lopes & Jonathan Ross, How to Drink Australian

“Bondar makes a very modern set of wines that stress fragrance, poise, subtle complexity and mid-weight drinkability, but there’s a strong link to the past in the wines, too. While the reds are significantly fresher than styles of old, Bondar is not pushing hard in any particular direction, instead he cleverly builds structure, texture and detail producing wines that feel thoroughly familiar and strikingly new, too.” Young Gun of Wine, “Reinventing McLaren Vale.”

Other Recent Releases

  • Jaeger Defaix
    Jaeger Defaix
    How nice it was to see the smiles return to the faces of Didier and Hélène Defaix. And ...
    How nice it was to see the smiles return to the faces of Didier and Hélène Defaix. And what charming smiles they are! If Burgundy’s growers were pr...

    Read more

  • Lethbridge Gamays
    Lethbridge Gamays
    When Ray and Maree Collis started Lethbridge Estate in 1996, the first vines that went ...
    When Ray and Maree Collis started Lethbridge Estate in 1996, the first vines that went into the ground were Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Shiraz. The ...

    Read more

  • Garagiste
    Garagiste
    2023 is the gift that keeps on giving. Across the board, our Victorian growers have tur...
    2023 is the gift that keeps on giving. Across the board, our Victorian growers have turned out some of their most exciting wines to date, and Barne...

    Read more

  • Thomas Wines
    Thomas Wines
    After 30 years of making world-class Hunter Valley Shiraz, Andrew Thomas’s passion for ...
    After 30 years of making world-class Hunter Valley Shiraz, Andrew Thomas’s passion for the variety and his region hasn’t budged an inch. It has all...

    Read more

  • Mayacamas & Philip Togni
    Mayacamas & Philip Togni
    Where to start with Mayacamas Vineyards? How about with the words of Eric Asimov: “A le...
    Where to start with Mayacamas Vineyards? How about with the words of Eric Asimov: “A legendary purveyor of classically structured, ageworthy Napa V...

    Read more

  • Meadowbank
    Meadowbank
    From the moment Peter Dredge joined forces with the Ellis family, Meadowbank has not mi...
    From the moment Peter Dredge joined forces with the Ellis family, Meadowbank has not missed a beat. Vintage 2023 continues this partnership’s stell...

    Read more

  • Robert Weil
    Robert Weil
    If you know where to look, 2022 is manna from heaven for Riesling lovers. We had the pl...
    If you know where to look, 2022 is manna from heaven for Riesling lovers. We had the pleasure of Robert Weil’s Nicolas Langer’s company in the trad...

    Read more

  • 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...

    Read more

View All Offers

More Content

Read more about this producer