Monday, September 10, 2007

Open To Negotiation?

The French term "negoçiant," poorly translates into English as "shipper". They are a middleman company that purchases grapes or grape juice from individual producers, then finishes the wine in its own cellars, then bottles and distributes it usually under their label.

In general, these wines tend to earn less respect than wines grown, produced and bottled by the wine maker whose labels will say "estate-bottled" or, in France, "mise en bouteilles au chateau".

But in Burgundy in particular, where most vineyards are subdivided into a fiendishly complicated jigsaw puzzle of tiny plots - the heritage of Napoleonic land redistribution and inheritance issues - the negoçiant system became a logical way to handle the output of vineyards too tiny to support individual wine producers.

Some of the best, and best-known, Burgundy producers are primarily négociants—including Jadot, Drouhin, and Bouchard Père & Fils. However, many New World wineries also employ a middleman.

Feel free to negotiate.