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Bondar: A Beautiful Metamorphosis—The 2022 Rayner Grenache, Monastrell and Chardonnay, Plus the 2021 Rayner Shiraz

Bondar: A Beautiful Metamorphosis—The 2022 Rayner Grenache, Monastrell and Chardonnay, Plus the 2021 Rayner Shiraz

View the full available range from Bondar here.

“There must be a bit of magic behind Bondar. All of the wines have an ethereal quality” Jane Faulkner, Halliday Wine Companion
 
“Marquee McLaren Vale vineyard now in the hands of some really good people, really good winemakers. It’s a very exciting proposition. The resulting wines, so far, short as the tenure has been, have been great.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front

In any craft, the more experienced you become and the more effort you put in, the better your results will be. Well, that’s the hope. Andre Bondar is experiencing this progression firsthand. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Andre, let’s just say he’s a thinking person’s wine guy. He’s not one for bravado, soundbites, or hyperbole. Instead, you’ll find a driven and deeply knowledgeable winegrower intensely focused on improving the health of his vineyard’s soils and, henceforth, the expression of its wines.

Much of this grower’s rise can be illuminated through the prism of the Rayner Vineyard. We’ve used the anecdote before, but Rhône great Alain Graillot once told us it takes ten years to understand your site deeply. This year marks a decade of Bondar’s relationship with the Rayner Vineyard and Graillot’s timeline looks about right. Planted in the 1950s, under the meticulous management of Andre Bondar and Ben Lacey, Rayner has undergone a beautiful metamorphosis. They have taken a long-term and intricate approach to viticulture, absorbing the nuances of the vineyard and undertaking a painstaking row-by-row, block-by-block approach to their farming. Vine and soil health is fostered by annual cover crops of barley and legumes grown in the sandy mid-rows and improving under vine management. Organic viticulture plays a key role, as does adjusting their pruning systems to encourage new wood development and, in some cases, completely removing vine canopies to start anew with fresh shoots.

Such work has done wonders for fruit purity and expression, making it easy for Andre to identify the sections of each block that are appropriate for individual bottlings. When we asked Andre and Selina about the evolution of their wines over ten years, they brought the conversation back to structure. It’s clear this is where their focus lies—to craft composed, balanced, beautifully pure and delicious wines that speak of their place and stand the test of time. So much plays out in the most impressive release we have tasted from this producer.

Regarding the vintages, 2021 and 2022 gifted very similar conditions; in Andre’s words, “the only real difference was yields were lower in 2022”. The cooler conditions of these years fit the Bondar style like a glove; long hang times provided ideal conditions to chase down the velvety elegance, mouth-watering balance and heightened structural frame he craves in his wines.

The beautifully sculpted 2022 Rayner Grenache is transparent and electric, while the brilliant 2021 Rayner Shiraz deserves every one of its points from Mr Halliday. Leaving Rayner, the new release of Bondar’s perennial over-achiever, Monastrell—AKA Mataro or Mourvèdre—is delightfully crunchy and savoury, and the Adelaide Hills Chardonnay is its usual knock-out self. In sum, this is a brilliant release from a producer loudly knocking on the door of South Australia’s elite, if they are not in the room already.

The Wines

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