Tapestry reproduction finds home in 9/11 museum
Nothing overshadows the horrendous loss of life during the World Trade Center attacks of 2001. But thanks to the generosity of Philippe and Catherine Pascal, owners of Domaine du Cellier aux Moines in Givry, Burgundy, the tragedy has a wine-related story. The tribute and remembrance will culminate this fall with the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City.
The tale begins atop the World Trade Center North Tower, home of the Windows on the World restaurant. The elegant establishment offered panoramic views, well-regarded cuisine and one of the world’s best wine collections with the famous “Cellar in the Sky.”
Beginning in 1976 and ending Sept. 11, 2001, Kevin Zraly, who was out of the restaurant on the fateful day, served as wine director and offered wine-education courses. The wine program helped propel Windows on the World to the nation’s top-grossing restaurant.
Emblematic of the restaurant’s passion for wine, a novel carpet graced the entrance. Installed in 1996, the 2,000-square-foot, handmade piece depicted the island of Manhattan lit at night and seen from aerial view. The carpet’s intricate, colorful detail included the East River and Hudson River appearing to form a wine glass holding the island.
Pascal knew the carpet well.
“I lived in New York in the 1980s, and enjoyed visiting Windows on the World,” Pascal says. He returned to France in the 1990s to work in the wine trade, including serving as President of Veuve Clicquot Champagne for LVMH. Work brought him back to New York often. During frequent visits to the restaurant, he saw and admired the “Manhattan” carpet.
The story took a turn in 2004, after the Pascals bought their Burgundy domaine. While seeking furnishings to renovate, in 2009 Pascal visited the small firm of Manufacture de Moroges just three miles away from Domaine du Cellier aux Moines.
Manufacture de Moroges’ owner, Pierre-Louis Juillet, showed various carpet samples including a small, dark-blue piece.
“On the back, I saw the letters WOW,” says Pascal who still maintains a New York apartment. “Pierre said it meant Windows on the World.”
Julliet’s firm, it turns out, made the massive original carpet by hand.
“Pierre went to a dusty pile of papers, and after 10 minutes pulled out the carpet’s beautiful original design,” Pascal says. “I practically had tears in my eyes and it struck me as a pity that it all had disappeared.
“Then almost without thinking, it came out of my mouth that we should make the carpet again,” Pascal says. “Pierre looked at me like I was crazy.”
Reproducing the carpet in its original size was impractical, but working on a smaller scale might work. They did not discuss budget or timing, but Pascal and his wife nonetheless resolved to reproduce a smaller “Manhattan” carpet.
“We didn’t have a clue what we would do with it,” Pascal says. “But the point was to make it and keep alive a memory of a fantastic place.”
After a year-and-a-half of redesigning and researching the many wool colors, work began. Meanwhile, Pascal and his wife concluded that keeping the new carpet in private hands would be a mistake.
“Nobody would really see it,” Pascal says.
They contemplated donating the carpet for a charity auction to benefit the families of New York City firefighters, but eventually Pascal met the widow of the New York Port Authority chairman who perished on 9/11. She put him in touch with the curator of the newly formed 9/11 Memorial Museum.
“The curator team loved the idea of adding the new Manhattan carpet as a piece of art in the permanent museum collection,” Pascal says. “We agreed — because now millions will see it.”
“The carpet will be like raising a glass of wine to Windows on the World, the city and the memory of 9/11,” Pascal says.
For your pleasure this Bastille Day, try:
2009 Domaine Chofflet-Valdenaire, Givry, France (Luxury 18688; $26.99): This lovely wine’s fragrant black cherry and light, earthy aromas jump from the glass. Delicious ripe, red Pinot Noir fruit with bright acidity and fine tannins carry through the well balanced finish. Highly recommended.
Dave DeSimone is the wine columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.