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Bondar: Budding Genius—The Rise and Rise of the Rayner Vineyard

Bondar: Budding Genius—The Rise and Rise of the Rayner Vineyard

“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

Andre Bondar and Selina Kelly are on a roll. For 10 years, they have worked the sandy soils of their Rayner Vineyard, patiently coaxing this impressive site back to its full potential, effort that is now paying high dividends.

When they started out in 2013, there were nine hectares of a 20-hectare site under vine. Andre and Selina immediately set about addressing the health of these established vines: improving under vine management; moving to organic viticulture; adjusting their pruning systems to encourage new wood development; and in some cases, completely removing vine canopies to start anew with fresh shoots. Then they planted a further 4.5 hectares, mostly to Grenache to suit the sandy soils (so conducive to dry-grown bush vines) but also with smatterings of Counoise, Sagrantino and Carignan.

As the vineyard has evolved, so too has Andre’s winemaking. Responding to the premium output from the vineyard, he adjusted his methods to source “more structure, more detail, more spice and depth”. Logically, this has seen a trickle-down effect on the quality and style of the entry-level wines in the range.

Looking to the future, Andre has identified the most exciting Rayner blocks, as well as some other premium sites in the area managed by like-minded growers, with the intention of making “unique and beautiful wines from beautiful sites”. The first of these premium, single-block releases will be from the 2021 vintage, and we can’t wait to taste what is in store.

In terms of the vintages below, 2021 and 2022 gifted very similar conditions: in Andre’s words “the only real difference was yields were lower in 2022”. The cooler conditions fit the Bondar style like a glove; long hang times to develop flavour, while still maintaining fresh lines of acidity and the signature Bondar mid-weight flair. In fact, Andre describes the 2021 vintage as his favourite since he started working with the Rayner vineyard. The releases below are some of the finest we have tasted from this shining star.

 

More information on Bondar Wines and the full available range can be viewed here

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