Bondar wines = great people, a great vineyard and incredibly talented winemaking. In just a few short years, Andre and Selina Bondar have taken their pale, Tiffany blue-labelled wines to the stratosphere.
Using fruit from the sacred Rayner vineyard in the Mclaren Vale, where its old-gnarled vines were once used for the likes of Wirra Wirra RSW and Brokenwood Graveyard, they've made some incredbily lithe, savoury and aromatic wines. This GSM, from the extraordinary 2018 vintage, is one of the finest young reds we've seen in awhile. Junto is Spanish for "together", in this case, a union of old friends Grenache (70%), Shiraz (20%) Mataro (9%) and Counoise (1%). The Grenache is culled from three separate blocks: the lion's share from Bondar's own Rayner Vineyard, a grower five km away in McLaren Flat, and a second grower near Tatachilla.
The Shiraz is also homegrown Rayner fruit, while the Mataro is sourced from a grower in the foothills of Willunga, on the famed Kurrajong soils. The tiny addition of Counoise is drawn from young plantings in the Rayner Vineyard. It was all wild-fermented with approx. 20% whole-bunches and raised in old oak. The blend is put together with the idea that Grenache is the hero, with Shiraz adding supporting flesh and the Mataro spice and structure/tannin.
This wine brings together traditional friends Grenache (70%), Shiraz (20%) and Mataro (9%) with just a tiny touch of Counoise dropped in the mix (let's call it 1%). Sourced from old vines, picked by hand, the fruit was gently handled in the winery and aged in old French oak. We tend to pick early as we can for this wine so that we can create a very fresh, bright wine, with red fruits and lovely herbal characters. There's a life to the palate, a nerve, a tension as well which elevates the intentionally light palate to a more serious place
As always, Junto is a lively, vibrant wine with restraint, energy and sheer drinkability that has rarely been associated with the red wines of the McLaren Vale. An absolute steal for the money.
Bondar are a little family wine company making wines from their favourite regions McLaren vale and Adelaide Hills. The home of Bondar Wines is the iconic Rayner Vineyard in McLaren Vale. They want to make wines that are lighter, brighter, more savoury, structured and intriguing. Different. Over the last few years since Bondar started this endeavour they have been honoured to be named James Halliday's Best New Winery in his 2017 Australian Wine Companion, to have won multiple trophies at the McLaren Vale Wine Shows they have entered, and to have been named one of the Top 50 Young Guns of Wine in 2018.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
This blend of 70% grenache, 20% shiraz, 9% mataro and 1% counoise comes from a patchwork of blocks, mainly estate, and mainly grown on sand. The burst of acidity is a blessing, not bane. It's true that grenache and shiraz do all the heavy lifting, but the impact of the mataro (and even the 1% counoise) add shade to the bright sunny flavours of the wine.
CAMPBELL MATTINSON - THE WINE FRONT
91% grenache, 5% shiraz, 4% mataro. It's the antithesis of the dark, stewy red. This is light and lifted, bright and buoyant. It's more about perfume and mouthfeel than it is about density; far more in fact. It trips about with anise and raspberry, fennel and florals. It delights as it goes. It makes light look fantastic.
MIKE BENNIE - THE WINE FRONT
Sheesh, this has something going on. I like the scent, floral, gently sweet, something candied, a lolly bag just opened, but the breeze of fern and briar whips that away and you get a wholly more complex perfume. Drinking is a charm. So satiny, just on medium weight, the sleek slide of nice pinot noir with the jolly sweet fruit of ruddier grapes slipping in. Its red berries all through the palate with a faint lick of herbal spice – simple done well, freshness on its side. That texture is so good. Makes you want to drink and drink. And it’s got fine edges and length. Long, slow claps.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Bright, medium red/purple colour with a fresh, clean, bright aroma which smacks of cherries, and is all about the fruit. It's similar in the mouth: light to medium-bodied and fruit-sweet, succulent, cherry-like and delicious in much the same way a good modern pinot noir would be. Silky-soft texture; fine balance. Grenache does most of the talking. An excellent wine.