Argentina may have become its spirtual home, but malbec's origins lie in France

The Grape

Today, one country springs to mind for this grape: Argentina. Its origins are in France, however, where it's known as either ‘Auxerrois’ or ‘Cot’. Its darkness led to it being labelled the ‘black wine of Cahors' but in Argentina it found its spiritual home, with the grape thriving in diverse terroir and high-altitude vineyards.

The Taste

A beefy wine that’s big on the tannins, yet still soft and rounded in mouthfeel, with a long finish. Amid the full-bodied flavours you'll find plums, cherries, blackberries and violet; sweeter nods of vanilla and chocolate; earthier, gamey undertones; and even some spice - back pepper, cloves and nutmeg.

The Pairings

It famously matches well with steaks for good reason, similarly beef ragù, venison, pork, or any barbecued meat, really. With bottles that are big on the red fruits, you can pair with blue cheese, roasted vegetables and mushrooms. A dark chocolate tart can stand up to its intense flavours, too. An old school post-dinner pairing? Try a cigar.

The Vines

The high altitudes of Mendoza produce many of Argentina's malbecs, but you'll also get fine examples further north from Salta and the deep south of Patagonia. Wine makers in South West France still grow the grape, but often use it blends, and you'll also find malbecs from New Zealand, Australia, California and, of course, Chile.

The Bottles

Xavier Sockeel, head sommelier at London’s Maison François, chooses four of his favourite malbec-based wines

2017 Triangle Wines Salvo Malbec (El Peral, Mendoza, Argentina)

This uses grapes coming from four wineries in the Uco Valley. Having benefitted from natural farming methods and with no oak having been used, it is a fresh, bright, aromatic wine with energetic yet fine tannins and a funky, rusty finish. Lighter in style than its traditional Argentinian cousins.

Available at:£19.60,

2017 Triangle Wines Salvo Malbec (El Peral, Mendoza, Argentina)

2014 Berangeraie Cuvée Juline (Cahors, France)

Coming from Cahors, the traditional home of malbec, this cuvée is an excellent example of a rich and elegant south- western dinnertime wine. Its deep colour, intense aromas and flavours of ripe black fruits and hints of toasty vanilla combine to give perfect balance and vibrant body in every moreish glass.

Available at:£17.50,

2014 Berangeraie Cuvée Juline (Cahors, France)

2014 El Porvenir Laborum (Cafayate, Argentina)

In the high-altitude vineyards of Cafayate, Bodega el Porvenir is among one of the forward-looking producers who are bringing freshness and elegance to the powerful malbec grape. Rich blackcurrant fruit predominates in a rounded red wine that balances strength and finesse seamlessly.

Available at:£33,

2014 El Porvenir Laborum (Cafayate, Argentina)

2016 Cheval Des Andes (Mendoza, Argentina)

Made from grapes grown on ungrafted, century- old malbec vines in the fabulous terroir of high Andean foothills, this bottle is black fruit- driven, with an aromatic complexity that includes fresh herbs, clove and tobacco notes. On the palate it’s silky, fresh and elegant. You can drink it young, but it also promises to age well.

Available at:£96.80,

2016 Cheval Des Andes (Mendoza, Argentina)

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