Argentina butts into Chile-Peru liquor dustup

SANTIAGO Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:07pm GMT

A bottle of pisco, a liquor made from grape juice, is seen is this handout picture in Lima, August 23, 2007. Chilean producers of a grape brandy known as Pisco petitioned their government on Friday to stop an Argentine producer from selling the product in Europe under the same name, which Peru also claims as its own. REUTERS/Ministry of Production/Handout

A bottle of pisco, a liquor made from grape juice, is seen is this handout picture in Lima, August 23, 2007. Chilean producers of a grape brandy known as Pisco petitioned their government on Friday to stop an Argentine producer from selling the product in Europe under the same name, which Peru also claims as its own.

Credit: Reuters/Ministry of Production/Handout

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SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean producers of a grape brandy known as Pisco petitioned their government on Friday to stop an Argentine producer from selling the product in Europe under the same name, which Peru also claims as its own.

This latest episode adds a new wrinkle to the long-standing Pisco dispute, one of several feuds between Chile and its northern neighbour, Peru.

The U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) lists Peru as the holder of the Pisco appellation of origin. But Chileans, who drink great amounts of the liquor, are having a hard time swallowing the notion of Argentine pisco.

"The pisco denomination is exclusive to Chile and they cannot market any liquor under that name," said Fernando Herrera of Chile's Association of Pisco Producers to reporters on Friday.

Herrera and a group of producers presented their concerns directly to Foreign Relations Minister Alejandro Foxley.

"We have an excellent team of professionals who are going to defend Chile's right to the Pisco denomination of origin," Foxley said.

Argentina and Chile are both big grape growers and wine producers.

Argentine pisco is made by a company called Tapaus in Mendoza province, which neighbours Chile. The company also produces grappa, brandy and triple sec from grapes.

Regarding the dispute with Peru over the beverage, Foxley referred to Chile's proposal to Peru several months ago that the countries join forces to market Pisco internationally.

"What's best for Peru and Chile is to share the denomination and even to jointly market the product in international markets, but they (Peru) still maintain their position as a competitor and are disputing the trade name."

Relations between the two countries have gone through periodic cold spells ever since the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific, when Chile seized a chunk of mineral-rich territory from Peru.

Since then, the two countries have forged strong economic ties but disputes have cropped up on everything from maritime fishing rights to the origin of desserts and fruits.

(Reporting by Monica Vargas; writing by Lisa Yulkowski; editing by Todd Eastham)

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