Portuguese producer Herdade do Esporão had to recall 300,000 bottles because of an Osama bin Laden lookalike on the label.

The top-rated winery’s Tinto Reserva 1999’s label art (pictured) showed a reclining bearded figure in a turban – which executives thought might remind people of the world’s most wanted man.

‘The image could hurt sensibilities. After the events of 11 September anybody who looked at the label would be reminded of Osama bin Laden,’ spokeswoman Alice Quina said.

The image, by Portuguese artist Pedro Proença, was chosen in May last year – long before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Due to delays in shipping, the 12,000 bottles earmarked for New York arrived the day after the catastrophe.

‘We knew then we had to replace the image,’ said Quina. All the bottles of Esporão were recalled, and the labels replaced within a week with an image of a medieval king and queen drinking wine.

Esporão in Alentejo, owned by conglomerate Finagra, is one of Portugal’s most respected estates. Under Australian winemaker David Baverstock it produces top-rated red and white reserve wines and some 20 different varietals.

Written by Adam Lechmere14 February 2002