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In 1728 Louis XV passed an edict to allow the transport of wine in bottles. Before this time wine was only authorised to be transported in barrels, which made it virtually impossible to market champagne outside its local area of consumption. Nicolas Ruinart seized the opportunity and, on 1st September 1729, founded the champagne house of Ruinart and they have been in production ever since. Indeed they hold the accolade of being the oldest established champagne house! Nicolas' uncle, Benedictine monk Dom Thierry Ruinart, was instrumental in the creation of champagne – he worked with Dom Pérignon at the Abbey of Hautvillers, the birthplace of champagne. Dom Ruinart's brother was a cloth merchant, and initially Ruinart's champagne was a business gift for cloth purchasers, but in 1736 Ruinart were so successful with their champagne operation, that they were able to terminate their cloth business. Nicolas' eldest grandson Irénée sold Ruinart champagnes to royalty throughout Europe and to Empress Josephine, but she refused to pay her bills following her divorce from Napoleon. Ruinart are based in Reims; their ancient Gallo-Roman chalk cellars, acquired in 1768, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Extending 38 metres underground and 8 kilometres long, these crayères are among the largest in the town. During the battle of the Marne in WW1, Ruinart's buildings were destroyed. This however was no problem for André Ruinart, who conducted the company's affairs underground from one of their crayères. When further shelling flooded the gallery his response was simple – he lashed office furniture to a wooden platform and carried on operations as usual, floating on his raft. In 1963 Ruinart was bought by Moët & Chandon which later became LVMH, the world's largest luxury group, who continue ownership today. Chardonnay is Ruinart's emblematic grape variety and the essence of all their cuvées. Ruinart age their champagnes for far longer than the minimum requirements, which is 15 months for a non-vintage champagne and 36 months for a vintage. At Ruinart the non-vintage wines age for three to four years, and nine to 10 on average for a Dom Ruinart (named in honour of the monk and Ruinart ancestor who was instrumental in the birth of champagne, and first released in 1959, with the rosé version in 1962). This extensive ageing gives Ruinart its signature house style: elegant, fresh and sophisticated, presented in their distinctive bottles, which are copies of the first champagne bottles of the 18th century. Ruinart are passionate about the environment and have taken this to a new level with sustainable packaging called Second Skin – a pioneering eco-design 100% paper, fully recyclable packaging that is moulded to fit the curves of their iconic bottle.