"Wine engineered, with no grapes or fermentation. Mature, earthy notes with delicate bubbles. Savory flavor shows through the citrus and stone fruit."
So reads the description of the impending inaugural release from Ava Winery – a product claiming to replicate the 1992 Dom Pérignon Champagne using Ava’s proprietary technology. Beyond the contrived and tacky tasting note, there’s another disconcerting element in their message: no grapes, no fermentation.
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The two scientists behind Ava Winery (it’s actually more of a laboratory), Alec Lee and Mardonn Chua, first conceived the concept when Chua saw a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay sell for five figures. The objective was innocent enough. What if they could bioengineer a liquid that tasted and smelled just like the wine in that bottle, for a fraction of the price? Why should only a few wealthy collectors be able to sample the world’s finest wines?