French term for merchant, trader or trading house. Although it applies to products of all kinds, it is most commonly used for wine merchants who buy grapes, must or wine, process them and then market them themselves. In Bordeaux in particular, négociants have a very long history dating back to the 12th century (see Bordeaux wine trade for more details). Today there are around 400 négociants in the Bordeaux region, marketing 70% of Bordeaux wines either directly to the end consumer or to resellers. Many of these companies have been family-owned for many generations or are subsidiaries of large international wine multinationals or beverage companies.
Through the intermediary of the courtiers (brokers), the wines are taken over by the négociants in the year after the harvest and sold by special subscription (pre-order), known here as "en primeur". However, many of them are also château owners and also act as producers. The "pure" négociant is limited to trading in original château bottlings, whereas the négociant éleveur buys grapes, musts or wines in barrels and uses them to create his own private labels. In Champagne, there are the protected terms négociant distributeur and négociant manipulant, which are only used here. Many large trading houses also cultivate their own vineyards outside Bordeaux. These include Boisset, Drouhin, Jadot and Latour (Burgundy), Duboeuf (Beaujolais), as well as Guigal and Jaboulet-Aîné (Rhône).