Thursday, November 13, 2008

James Bond Prefers Chilean “Pisco”

Brazilian government issues new “Caipirinha” Law

During your next trip to South America, you will surely run into some exotic food and alcoholic spirits that may make you lose your head, not only literally speaking. This is exactly what happened to Daniel Craig, the actor plays the leading role in the latest episode of the James Bond saga. Craig had his first encounter with the local beverage while filming “Quantum of Solace” in Chile´s northern desert area. “Bond” was so delighted by Pisco that he demanded that plenty of it be served at the premier presentation of his film in London, with the attendance of guests such as Prince William and Prince Harry. Pisco Sour, a variation when the spirit is mixed with lemon juice, has especially captivated Craig. Another popular variation invented in Chile has been Piscola, when it is mixed with Coca Cola.
There has been a long-standing dispute between Chile and Peru over the ownership of the “Pisco” denomination. While the Chilean government does not contend that Pisco is the name of the Peruvian port from where it began to be exported in the 17th century, it claims that greater production and more successful marketing campaigns by local companies have made the spirit popular around the world. At present the volume of Chilean Pisco production is fifty times larger than that of Peru, where it is still made using old fashioned and traditional methods. In Chile, especially in the fertile Elqui River valley area, 400 kilometers to the north of Santiago, the Pisco production process has become highly industrialized and sophisticated in order to meet constantly increasing international demand and quality standards. The pure water of the Elqui River has also been protected in order to make sure that Pisco is produced in a clean and environmentally friendly
environment . A National Council for Clean Production has been set up to prevent Water pollution, and to increase competitiveness of the product. At Elqui, the spirit is made from grapes mostly of the Muscat variety, while some vineyards prefer Torontel or Pedro Jimenez. The taste of Chilean Pisco is quite bland , similar to a weak rum. Its odor is very sweet and woody while the color is like that of vodka ,but with a slight yellowish tinge.The regulations for pisco designations established by the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture are as follows:

• Regular, 30% to 35% (60 to 70 proof).
• Special, 35% to 40% (70 to 80 proof).
• Reserve, 40% to 43% (80 to 86 proof).
• Great, 43% or more (86 or more proof).

Meanwhile in neighboring Peru, the local Pisco industry has not been able to recover from the crisis that began in the 1880s, when the country lost large portions of its territory to Chile as a result of the War of the Pacific. At that time, Peruvian Pisco production was concentrated in the Atacama desert, that was occupied by Chile in 1883. The new authorities banned Peruvian citizens from producing any alcoholic beverages such as Pisco while Chileans began to learn the secrets of its making.
In 1960 Chile banned Peruvian Pisco imports and Peru retributed with an identical decision that initiated the current “War of Pisco” that is being fought on the international legal battleground. In July 2005, the Peruvian government presented application for international registration to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), whereby Pisco should be declared “a beverage of Peruvian origin”. However, Peru´s claim has not prospered since the WIPO has not been able to establish that "Pisco" is Peruvian, as it is not within that organization´s attributions. On the other hand, the Chilean government has proposed a combined effort with Peru to increase marketing of Pisco at an international level. In every free trade agreement signed by Chile, an opportunity has always been left open for a similar recognition of Peru's claim, and has never been against the "Pisco" appelation being granted to Peru, provided that this recognition
does not damage Chilean commercial interests.
On the last day of October, 2008, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture published Article 4 of Instruction Rule 55 in the Official Newspaper, that clearly defines the way to prepare the country´s national spirit, known as Caipirinha. Similar in color to Pisco, Caipirinha is made from sugar cane and is also mixed with lemon juice, sugar and crushed ice. Article 4 states that “Caipirinha must be prepared with sugar cristals with no more than 150 grams per liter and no less than ten grams per liter, and that synthetic or natural substitutes cannot be used.” With regards to the lemon juice,”it can be added in dehydrated form, but there must be at least 1 percent lemon juice with 5 percent of citric acid.”.From this date Brazilian citizens and specialists ahve thirty days to make any suggestions to the law after which it will begin to be immediately inforced in local bars and restaurants.

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