By Martin Green
July 24, 2018
A US firm is busy making forgeries of some of the world’s most popular fine wines in a Colorado lab and selling them at knockdown prices.
Replica Wine’s team of scientists, led by a Master Sommelier, break down a wine’s chemical compounds, including such as aromas, flavours, mouth-feel, colour, purity and structure.
They then use classic wine blending techniques and grapes sourced from vineyards in California’s North Coast, Oregon and north-eastern Italy, to create their copies.
The brands have names like Knockoff, Pickpocket and Misbehaved, and typically sell for less than half the price of the originals.
“At Replica, we use science to help us identify the roadmap of America’s favourite wines,” say founders Ari Walker and Kevin Hicks. “We then use the artistry of classic wine blending techniques, and the quality control of world-class winemakers and a master sommelier to create replica wines.
“Although we leverage key scientific insights to create our master forgeries, our winemaking is grower-centric with a focus on craft, integrity and purity.
“Creating a product inspired by another popular product, but for a better value, is not unlawful. Just as you might find a generic brand in a supermarket, almost identical in quality to the original, Replica is nearly indistinguishable in taste from the wines that inspired it, but not an exact copy.
“We hope other winemakers are flattered to know their wines inspired Replica. You know how they say, ‘Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery?’ We chose the wines that inspired Replica because consumers are paying too much for their favourite wines. We deliver those flavours at a better price.”
They acknowledge that they cannot create a perfect replica of the popular wines, but they aim to achieve a 95% match. The resulting wines, dubbed Frankenwines, have fooled leading experts in blind tastings and secured strong scores.
They are sold in 35 US states but have not yet found their way to the UK.