From the French word for merchant, négociants first started in Burgundy, purchasing grapes or finished wine from the region's myriad small estates, then blending, bottling and selling the wine under the négociant's name. Some of the best, and best-known, Burgundy producers are primarily négociants—including Jadot, Drouhin, and Bouchard Père & Fils.
Rise of the New Négociant
Over the years a lot of forgettable wine has come from huge négociant companies, both in Burgundy and around the world, but lately that's been changing. Ambitious, nontraditional producers are entering the business, bending the historical sense of the term négociant by working hands-on with small groups of growers, for instance, or by hiring star winemakers to custom-crush special cuvées. At the same time, some well-known names are reinventing themselves, focusing on quality rather than quantity.