IF you’re under 40, or as I like to call it these days, "pre-arthritis", you probably won’t remember the dark days of malbec when you had a 50-50 chance of opening something that would be as rough as sandpaper.

These days, the grape has been tamed by the South Americans and latterly the South Africans and Australians to boot but if nostalgia floats your boat or you are just into wine masochism, there’s still a few gambles to be had in the south of France.

It’s the Argentinians who turned the fortunes for the grape and, in the process, forced the wine world experts to sit up and take notice of what up until then was a giant but not very noticeable industry. The vines they use are different from the French varieties, even though the original cuttings came from there in the 19th century, which suggests that the variety they were sourced from originally is now extinct in Europe.

Malbec itself is a dark, rich grape with very thick skin so it needs a lot more exposure to the sun than Merlot or Cabernet which explains, in part at least, its success in the new world. In cooler vintages, the already generous tannins can be a tad brutal but with enough of a tan, they pair superbly with the fruit to give a really generous mouthfeel which can make even the lower-priced wines taste so generous and luxurious.

The best malbec in my view is being produced in Argentina and with their unique variety, I can't see that changing for quite a while but with the Aussies and South Africans on their heels, the future looks really exciting for this former bad boy of the Cahors.

Mad Bird Malbec, Argentina

A lovely nose of violets and black fruits with a soft, complex palate of autumn fruits, plums and blueberries. A gorgeous Malbec but perhaps not a gift for the mother-in-law with a name like Mad Bird.

Villeneuvewines £12

Tesco’s Finest Malbec, Argentina

I do my best to hate supermarket own-label wines but every now and then one like this comes along and I have to swallow my pride. Blueberries and cocoa on the nose with dark autumn fruits, vanilla and spice on the palate. It’s gorgeous.

Tesco, £8