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A Report On Bordeaux 's Cru Classe Wines

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Bordeaux’s cru classe wines are sold on the Place de Bordeaux, a system of wine merchants (negociants) and brokers (courtiers) who work with chateaux to send their wines to market. The wines are also sold en primeur, whereby customers may purchase wines far in advance of their bottling and public release. This trade structure is largely the result of three interrelated historical phenomena: Bordeaux’s unique relationship, and robust trade, with England; the arrival of foreign merchants in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; and the chateaux owners’ wealth and social standing. Bordeaux’s wines became destined for greatness when the French Eleanor of Aquitane married the English Henry Plantagenet in 1152. Upon the marriage,…show more content…
The Dutch and English arrived in the seventeenth century. The Germans and Irish followed in the eighteenth. These shrewd businessmen saw an opportunity in the wine industry that did not require purchasing grand chateaux and large tracts of land. Instead, they established companies to buy and sell wine, called “Maisons de Negoce,” on the Quai des Chartrons, just outside central Bordeaux and closer to the port itself. Although negociants had been a part of Bordeaux, in some form, since grapes were first planted, they only now became cornerstones of the trade structure.

Unfortunately for the negociants, most chateaux owners refused to deal with them directly, on account of their being foreign (and usually bourgeoisie). Courtiers began brokering deals between parties, hastening communications and serving as neutral mediators. Because negociants were all located on the Quai des Chartrons, and chateaux owners were spread out across Bordeaux, deal making would have been interminably slow in the time before email, fax, and the telephone. Courtiers travelled between the parties, acting as messengers.

By overseeing the entire system, courtiers gained extensive knowledge of wine prices and demand. They were soon indispensable. Charles Sichel, of negociants Maison Sichel, claims “a good courtier is important to the whole system because they can act as a catalyst, on behalf of a
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