Gertie makes for thrilling and engaging company

2016 Gertie Cabernet Franc by  Ben Marx, Clare Valley,  South Australia

2016 Gertie Cabernet Franc by Ben Marx, Clare Valley, South Australia (£18, Oddbins). 

Last September I was invited to be the international judge at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show. It was an unmissable chance to taste blind a huge number of newly released wines with some of the greatest palates in the country.

After a week of gruelling judging, which involves a special sort of concentration that I cannot put into words, and some equally heavy nights out, we adjourned for the Judges Lunch, at a particularly feral Chinese restaurant on Adelaide’s Gouger Street, which marked the end of formalities. I sat next to the delightful Ben Marx, with whom I had judged sparkling wines earlier in the week.

We were all encouraged to bring a bottle and he brought along his newly released 2016 Gertie. Made from only five rows of vines in a very special Clare Valley vineyard, Gertie is a remarkable cabernet franc with a thrilling blackberry-leaf scent and a slippery, lissom palate.

Three tonnes of fruit are split into three fermenters, one sees 40% whole bunches and a three-week post-fermentation maceration and the other two are destemmed and are soaked for even longer. Old French oak and minimal sulphur complete the picture. Gertie is as vital and engaging as any cab franc I have ever tasted. It sells out in seconds in Australia and we are lucky to have a few cases arriving at Oddbins next Wednesday. You simply must taste this wine.

• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).