“Epic fail” were the kindest words celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain had for a line of “9/11 memorial commemorative” wines being peddled by a Long Island company ahead of the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
“Vomit inducing,” “grotesque, exploitative” were the only other family-friendly descriptives Mr. Bourdain had for the wine, which was reportedly briefly on the menu at Les Halles, a New York restaurant where he retains the title chef-at-large.
Despite widespread rage online, Lieb Family Cellars continues to sell its 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Merlot and 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Chardonnay, according to the website. These go for $19.11 (U.S.), while another cheaper vintage, the September Mission Merlot, is a bargain at $9.11.
From their website, the winemakers explain that “the concept emerged at harvest just days after the September 11 disaster.”
“That seems awfully fast,” came Eater’s retort.
The Los Angeles Times went easier on the winery, pointing out that charity is involved: “It's a little precious, but all for a good cause,” writes Deborah Netburn.
Six to 10 per cent of the proceeds of the two more expensive wines will go to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. General manager Gary Madden guesstimated that some $25,000 in sales from the cheaper vintage, rolled out in 2004, had already gone to a separate foundation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Your purchase of these wines raises money for these charities, so we encourage you to spread the word and share these guilt-free indulgences with your family and friends,” the winemakers explain on the website.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Lieb initially boasted that its grapes are grown just “90 miles from the site of the World Trade Center,” but this has since been deleted from the website.
In another unfortunate move, the winery promotes a syrah dedicated to the vineyard’s late mascot -- a dog -- directly below its line of 9/11 wines. (Twenty per cent of the proceeds are donated to the Animal Medical Center of New York.)
Would you drink a 9/11 memorial wine if you knew some of the profit was going to the winemaker? What would that dinner conversation be like?