Bondar Wines Winemaker Andre Bondar has been announced as the recipient of the Basil Sellers Prize for Dux of the Len Evans Tutorial 2023.
The announcement was made last Friday at a presentation lunch at Spicers Guesthouse in the Hunter Valley, where James Halliday AM and Basil Sellers AM presented the award.
This marked the 21st year of the Len Evans Tutorial from which 252 scholars have now graduated, many of whom have gone on to become wine show chairs, senior wine judges and industry leaders.
The Tutorial is an invaluable training group, equipping scholars with the tools and skills to evolve the quality of Australian wines, and to give them the confidence to broadcast the quality of Australian wine both locally and abroad.
Bondar, who is Co-Chair of the McLaren Vale Wine Show committee, will travel to Europe visit some of the most famous wine producing regions and producers in the world, flying business class courtesy of the Leven Evans Tutorial Principal Sponsor Singapore Airlines.
Bondar’s wine career began in 2001 at Nepenthe in the Adelaide Hills, and he has since spent time in the Northern Rhone at Domaine Allain Graillot. Speaking about the achievement, Bondar said that he was honoured to be named Dux of the 2023 Len Evans Tutorial.
“It was every bit as incredible as expected, with great wine after great wine blowing our minds. Every time we walked nervously into the judging room or dinner hall, there was a palpable energy in the air, it was magical.
“Listening to the tutors discuss the wine and then interrogate us on our thoughts was thrilling and we learnt so much. Listening to the other scholars discuss the wines was also fascinating. There was huge depth and range of knowledge and opinion with a singular focus on what was in the glass.
“I do feel incredibly honoured and proud to receive the Dux award. I would like to acknowledge the other 11 scholars though, who all brought a positive collective energy and made the week even more memorable and fun.”
From 30 October to 3 November, 12 Australian wine professionals, including sommeliers, educators, trade and winemakers, tasted some of the rarest and oldest wines. The 2023 Tutorial featured five judging sessions covering Riesling, Shiraz/Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet et al.
Masterclasses this year included Barolo led by Jane Faulkner, Wendouree led by Michael Hill-Smith AM MW, Champagne Prestige led by Tyson Stelzer, Grenache led by Steve Pannell, A Short Tour of Burgundy led by Philip Rich, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti led by Tom Carson.
Basil Sellers AM, Patron of the Len Evans Tutorial, said: “The Tutorial’s contribution to the Australian wine industry is multi-fold, but most importantly it aims to improve the quality of Australian wine and the calibre of Australian wine professionals.”
“The Tutorial presents wines otherwise largely unavailable to the 12 scholars, either because of their price or scarcity. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for all those who attend,” added James Halliday AM, Board Member and Founding Tutor.