Jump to content
Gwydion Stone

Swiss IGP for exclusive use of the word "Absinthe"

Recommended Posts

It has zero effect outside Switzerland, and I doubt if it ever will.

 

But it is going to create some problems for Oliver and Nicole (Matter) I would imagine?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it's your understanding, Alan, that the new Swiss IGP that has been granted will not be recognised by the EU - and that there is no system in place for reciprocal recognition of geographical protections? This is sort of a gotcha question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It has zero effect outside Switzerland, and I doubt if it ever will.

 

But it is going to create some problems for Oliver and Nicole (Matter) I would imagine?

 

And even Yves Kübler at times!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron, there is no automatic system of recognition of each other's PGI's. And I think it's pretty clear that Pernod-Ricard would strongly oppose it in the unlikely event of it getting close to that stage.

................

 

In fact there do seem to be a couple of other reports quoting this as a pan-European decision, but at least one of those is a straight quote from the article Ian posted. Which is why I recommend going back to the original Swiss government release.

 

"En Suisse, il est manifeste que ces appellations remplissent les conditions d'une dénomination traditionnelle et non d'une dénomination générique. Absinthe, Fée verte et La Bleue évoquent une eau-de-vie traditionnellement associée au Val-de-Travers, région ayant fait la réputation de ce produit. Il n'y a pas lieu d'accepter les demandes d'extension de l'aire géographique vu qu'une tradition n'est pas prouvée dans d'autres régions.

 

Finalement, l'OFAG estime que les marques, à défaut d'être protégées en Suisse, ne peuvent être invoquées et que l'intérêt public à enregistrer les dénominations en tant qu'IGP l'emporte sur l'intérêt privé des opposants à continuer de les utiliser sans devoir respecter le cahier des charges."

 

Even if you struggle to translate this via Google Translate (maybe marginally more useful than Google Alerts, Ian), the parts I have emphasised clearly say this is "en Suisse" or "in Switzerland."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Even if you struggle to translate this via Google Translate (maybe marginally more useful than Google Alerts, Ian), the parts I have emphasised clearly say this is "en Suisse" or "in Switzerland."

 

My point was that most news feeds pick up from Google Alerts so this first story will be the one that goes global, regardless of its veracity. I first heard about this yesterday from the Matters, but decided not to post until it became public.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A damn shame.

 

I thought this was dead in the water. I was even gearing up to get some Butterfly and break my no-VdT rule. Maybe I'll buy Oliver Matters next protest absinthe instead, especially since I just emptied my bottle of his last one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't forget, Butterfly is a project of an American, who supports the absinthe community. Brian Fernald, the owner of AbsintheDevil.com. He's a sraight-up guy. I'm not happy with the Swiss thing either, but the article I saw was apparently incorrect regarding the entire EU. My understanding is this only affects absinthe sold in Switzerland. It's still BS that they are trying to pull this. Let's hope the next 30 days are used wisely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The next festival in France, I think, should be all a buzz about this. Scott will get some good info as well as our EU members and producers.

 

All of a sudden it isn't just a festival, there will be serious discussions as well.

 

All speculation on my part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would expect so Bill. The French have a lot at stake here from a historical standpoint; their absinthe history is rich, earned, and deserved. It is insulting to everyone, but the country who brought absinthe to the masses in its heyday will most likely have strong feelings about this.

 

For all I know, there may be a rule in Switzerland that cheese called "Swiss" can't be imported either. It doesn't stop people anywhere else from making it and slapping a label on. Hopefully, this is as deep as this will ever go. 30 days boys and girls.

 

Edit: We won't have to wait. They are boiling over this at the French Forum. I hope they fight back hard.

Edited by Scott M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This IGP legislation seems just plain stupid to me! :dead: :poop:

 

Protecting absinthe should be about how it's produced -- not where!

 

I most certainly will ignore all absinthes coming from Val de Travers (like Kübler, La Clandestine and others)! That's probably the best one can do to sort of punish those responsible for this sort of stupid regional protectionism. I'm of course sorry about the producers in the VdT area who might have nothing to do with this, but the same will certainly apply to producers like Oliver Matter in Kallnach, Switzerland, who happens to be an "outsider" if IGP is passed.

 

The one thing that could make it all (?) well again is if IGP isn't passed after all. :PLAYNICE: ... Then my personal boycott will be cancelled.

 

Edit:

I'm glad that I just recently bought Vieux Pontarlier, Mansinthe, Brevans HR Giger and Libertine. The only one out of Val de Travers I've bought earlier is a (single) bottle of Kübler.

Edited by SethP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And now, after reading some more, it seems that my post earlier was plain wrong (I hope?) and for that I'm sorry.

 

Maybe I can drop my "boycott" of products out of Val de Travers, and the best way to explain this is probably by linking to this blog post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has passed and it does hurt Oliver Matter. So I'm still boycotting VdT. Also, this sets a legal precedence for this idea to be erroneously taken further to an international IGP.

 

Thanks for the link to my blog post though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read some more now, Evan, both here, at feeverte and your more recent blog post (from aug 16). And I also support a boycott. I keep changing my mind quite a bit here, but that's because of the somewhat tricky or unclear situation I guess. I endorse a boycott at least until it's clear that all territiorial claims is definately out of the question!

 

So, no (more) absinthes from VdT for me, for now!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the Google Translate of that article:

 

If the decision of the BLW was validated, it would be impossible for any operator French, European or even outside the Swiss Val-de-Travers commercialize absinthe not only in Switzerland but also in the territory of any country having recognized the Swiss IGP under international agreements, the petitioners add French and European.

 

So yeah, apparently the French Federation of Spirits and others believe that this decision effects those outside of Switzerland.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too bad, but at least and as I understand it the case has not been settled yet.

I hope that sence and reason will prevail.

 

If not? Well. Then the whole thing sucks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"CALL TO COMPROMISE

 

And noted that the European Commission is about to adopt a generic definition for the category Absinthe in the context of European legislation covering spirits. The decision of the FOA is also likely to undermine the current French procedure of registration of the geographical indication "of Pontarlier Absinthe" border town of Val-de-Travers.

 

On the same model, the French sector suggests producers vallonniers to favor the registration of the name "Absinthe Val-de-Travers." She calls these wishes this compromise at a time when Switzerland and France have launched an operation called "absinthe Route" linking distilleries and Swiss and French restaurants.

 

Confirmation by the TAF's decision FOAG would, in this context, "particularly unfortunate", underlines the French sector. The TAF is not the ultimate authority to appeal. Decision may still be appealed to the Federal Court (TF). For the president of the Interprofessional absinthe Thierry Béguin, there is no doubt that if they do not get successful before the TAF, some appellants do not be reluctant to go to TF."

 

:euro: Well that seems more feasible. ^Taken from same article Evan posted a snippet of.

Edited by Cajun Magic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Given that the Swiss government has moved ahead with its Absinthe PGI and forged an agreement with Jamaica, we can only assume that it will continue to push this agenda. No, the PGI isn't automatic upon approval, but once the protections have been established domestically, all the concerned countries have to do is swap lists of their protected GIs.

So yes, this PGI can and now does affect countries outside of Switzerland, and for the last couple of months the Content Team and I have been hammering away at an official position statement denouncing it.

That statement is now published on the home page, but here's the text for ease of reference:


The Wormwood Society hereby states its opposition to the establishment of a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) passed on August 16th, 2012 by Switzerland's Federal Office of Agriculture. We have determined that the PGI has a false basis and that it should be revoked.

According to The International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, “a Geographical Indication is a sign used on goods which have a specific geographical origin and possess particular qualities or a reputation due to that place”, such as Champagne, Scotch whisky, Port wine, Idaho potatoes, Roquefort cheese, and Kona coffee.

This PGI contains a number of protections regarding absinthe, the most ominous of which is to geographically restrict the legal application of the name “absinthe” to only those spirits originating from the small Val-de-Travers district of Switzerland.

The international public was given 30 days to object to the measure and 42 parties responded in opposition, including absinthe producers in France, the United States, parts of Switzerland outside Val-de-Travers, and concerned Wormwood Society board members, but the Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture accepted none of the counter arguments.

Although proponents of this geographical indication initially claimed the law would only affect producers domiciled in Switzerland, they have provided nothing to substantiate that claim. Many treaties bind Switzerland and the European Union. One relevant treaty, the Agreement on Trade in Agricultural Products, states in Annex 8, Article 5:

2. In the Community (EU), the protected Swiss names:
— may not be used otherwise than under the conditions laid down in the laws and regulations of Switzerland, and
— shall be reserved exclusively for the spirit drinks and aromatised drinks originating in Switzerland to which they apply.


Without evidence to the contrary, the Wormwood Society can only assume this article of the treaty will be upheld. This would require all European Union and Swiss absinthe producers outside of Val-de-Travers to discontinue use of the term, potentially causing severe economic harm to an industry still struggling to recover from over a century of propaganda and misunderstanding.

Furthermore, producers domiciled in countries with participating agreements currently in place or enacted in the future stand to be similarly affected, including those in the United States. Recent comparable agreements with Russia and Jamaica demonstrate the Swiss government's desire to forge these treaties with additional non-EU countries. The Swiss-Jamaican agreement is especially troubling since it necessitates, in another part of the world, the same restriction of the designation “absinthe” as does the Swiss-EU arrangement.

Proponents of the Swiss measure further claim that the tradition of post-ban clandestine absinthe production in Val-de-Travers cemented the region’s place in history and suggests an unbroken lineage. However, the distilling of absinthe has always been an international heritage and the greatest proportion of absinthe production and popularity occurred outside the tiny region of Val-de-Travers. Most prominent was France where, indeed for 110 years, that country had been known globally as the epicenter of absinthe tradition. Notable post-ban examples are the clandestine operations in the city of Pontarlier in France, Spain's uninterrupted legal production into the 1960s, and New Orleans businessmen J. Marion Legendre and Reginald Parker, who clandestinely distilled absinthe, using it as the inspiration for the subsequent commercial product, Herbsaint.

The Wormwood Society finds this measure illogical and unacceptable since, historically, absinthe was made in distilleries throughout the world and continued to be legally produced outside of Switzerland after that country banned the production and sale of the spirit in 1910.

The Wormwood Society recognizes the need for legally defining the spirit known as absinthe and commends the country of Switzerland for taking the lead in that matter. However,  the geographical indexing of the term absinthe is misleading, inaccurate, without historical foundation, inconsistent with the typical treatment of origin designations and, whether intentional or inadvertent, may activate the enforcement of existing and future international treaties. The results of this would be the cornering of the beverage's designation, potentially usurping the absinthe market.

The Wormwood Society thus views the aims of the Swiss PGI as antithetic to its mission of factual absinthe education and opposes it because of the misinformation upon which it is based.

Of far greater gravity, however, are the issues of suppression of free and fair trade and the diminished consumer choices that may very likely result from this misinformed and misguided measure. This measure entered into law, similar to those of a century ago, codifies a fallacy and has the potential to do great harm to the absinthe category as a whole.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blog it, Tweet it, FaceBook it, etc. I have a fairly good media mail list as well.

 

 

Edit: Special thanks to Evan and FPB, who were the principals in getting this written; then FPB and I argued over minutiae and for two months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blog it, Tweet it, FaceBook it, etc. I have a fairly good media mail list as well.

 

 

Edit: Special thanks to Evan and FPB, who were the principals in getting this written; then FPB and I argued over minutiae and for two months.

 

In addition to, principally, Evan, I would say Brian, as well, for providing the original content and kick in the ass. And nobody other than Ron could have provided the depth of detail to consider in this. Also, a couple of members here, who shall remain unnamed, were immeasurably helpful. As far as arguments go, they were all gentlemanly and in the spirit of the cause.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who are coming in late on this and without having to read back over 500 posts; could someone please post a timeline summary of whats happened to date on this topic? Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×