Good wine should engender good conversation. By choosing a bottle by price or grape variety alone, explains Jane Anson, you are missing out on one of the most important conversations that a bottle of wine can initiate. 

We know instinctively that good wine should be about the convergence of the place that it comes from, and the person who lovingly tended the vines – but there is additionally a great drama behind many bottles, that may combine history, politics and geography in their creation, and that can add another layer of pleasure to sharing and drinking it.In the spirit of this, I have selected here some bottles with fascinating stories behind them, whether of hardship, innovation or history. They make for a great way to remind ourselves that wine can be the starting point of an evening in a way that few other drinks allow, which is why it is often accorded a cultural aspect that isn’t seen with spirits or beers. And taking one of these along to a dinner party sure beats turning up with an anonymous brand…

Chateau d’Esclans Garrus 2007,
Cotes de Provence
(approx £70)

Since buying this provence property in 2005, owner Sacha Lichine has been working on creating a small production, boutique rose from the 100% free run juice of 80 year old Grenache vines – and to my mind the second vintage of the self-proclaimed ‘world’s most expensive rose’ is proving even more successful than the first. Winemaker is ex­Chateau Mouton Rothschild consultant Patrick Leon, and the wine is treated to the same meticulous attention to detail of a premium Burgundy or Bordeaux. Earlier this year, the top cuvee Garrus (Chateau d’Esclans produces four in the range) was selected by the Wine Spectator as one of the 200 best wines in the world, and was the only rose wine selected. It has real structure and body, with great length, but remains delicate and elegant as a good Provence rose should be.