It’s nearly been ten years to the day since the events of September 11, 2001. Have you been wracking your brain wondering how to pay your respects on that day of infamy? Here’s one possibility: pop open a bottle of barrel-fermented 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Merlot or the 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Chardonnay with hints of apple and vanilla. If you act fast and order the new wine over the internet directly from the winery, you can snap up a bottle for the oh-so-wittily tied-in price of $19.11.
Long Island-based Lieb Family Cellars lists these new offerings under its Great Wines for Good Causes section, a concept that the winery claims “emerged at harvest just days after the September 11 disaster.” In 2004, the brand launched its September Mission Merlot – the winery donates 91.1 cents of this less pricey option to the September’s Mission Foundation’s 9/11 Living Memorial fund-raising project for every bottle sold. (The site touts the merlot as “a great cause and a great wine value!”) This time around, the winery outdoes itself by pledging to donate a whopping 6 to 10 percent of all profits to the charity.
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Suffice it to say, not everyone is thrilled by the concept. Ever-outspoken Anthony Bourdain was furious to discover that his old New York stomping grounds Les Halles Downtown had the wines featured on its wine list, tweeting at the restaurant: “911Wine?!!? Are you out your fucking MIND?!! EPIC FAIL.” (Les Halles has since removed the wines – Anthony Bourdain is no one to mess with.) Meanwhile the FDNY Emergency Medical Services Twitter feed made the irate observation that Lieb donates double the profits for a wine produced in memoriam of its vineyard’s mascot dog, while New York City councilman Peter Vallone commented: “What's next? A 9/11 pastrami sandwich?”
Lieb Family Cellars general manager Gary Madden, on the other hand, protested to Los Angeles’ KPIX-TV that the winery has already raised $8,000 for charity through the wines in less than a month. “It is just another tool for the Memorial Foundation to use as they fundraise," said Madden. "People have different ways of grieving and giving back. I'm not making money, I just want good will.”