It has long been known that leaving wine in a barrel alters its characteristics. Wine that was transported long distances in barrels and exposed to the weather became darker in colour and fuller-flavoured. It was to mimic this natural process that Joseph Noilly, in 1813, designed a process that made France’s first vermouth. In 1855, his son Louis Noilly and son-in-law Claudius Prat set up the company that became Noilly Prat, moving the business to Marseillan where it remains to this day. The brand was acquired by its Italian competitor Martini & Rossi in 1971, which was merged into the Bacardi-Martini family of brands in 1992.