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Geographical indication protection “TEQUILA” for wine products

On October 3, 2022, the Director of the National Office of Intellectual Property issued Decision No. 4686/QD-SHTT on granting the Certificate of Geographical Indication Registration No. 00120 for the famous wine product "TEQUILA". Consejo Regulador Del Tequila, A.C. is the Organization that administers this GI.

Tequila is the name of an alcoholic beverage produced from the core of the Tequilana Weber agave plant grown in 5 states of Mexico. The origin of the agave plant dates back to the Aztec civilization and their gods. It is believed that the Aztecs knew how to make a fermented drink from the agave plant, with the common name pulque. After hundreds of years, the Mexican people have converted the agricultural environment around them as well as the primary vegetation in the Tequila region to cultivate the agave plant. As a result, the Tequila region has produced a multitude of cultural nuances related to the transformation of the natural landscape and the creation of architectural works about the production process, creating the image of Mexico today.

Figure 1. Trimming the leaves of the agave plant

In April 1530, the Spaniards arrived in the town of Tequila. When they ran out of their domestic wine, they began distilling the juice from the Agave tree to produce North America's first indigenous liquor. It was a mix of Mexican and Spanish wine cultures.

Mexico is proud of its long tradition of tequila-making. Tequila was first exported to the United States in 1884. There are several unique elements that make this type of Tequila one-of-a-kind.

Tequila has a wide variety of scents which include Tequila made from 100% agave with recognizable scents of raw materials such as the scent of herbs, flowers, roasted agate core, potato, sweet potato, and roasted pumpkin, while Tequila wine has a harmony between the main scents and the sweet taste of sugar.

The wine is clear, colorless, golden or pale straw yellow for silver tequila. The wine has suspended particles and light ripples. It has a distinct aroma of cooked agave core, a little aroma of fruits, herbs, oranges, and lemons; an aroma of baked potatoes, cooked vegetables, green fruits  (apples, pineapples), and moist straw. In products that have been brewed for a short or long time, the scent of alcohol is stronger and easily detectable. The alcohol concentration level of the wine ranges from light to heavy.

For yellow Tequila, the wine has a dark straw yellow color, straw yellow mixed with pure gold color, from light to dark amber mixed with copper to light red, and earthy yellow color (loose); the wine has suspended particles and has light ripples. This brew has the aromas of cooked straw and agave cores and herbs with a hint of caramel or wood. The wine has a sharp and bitter taste. The taste of alcohol is moderate to strong. The concentration level of the wine ranges from light to quite heavy.

As for brewed tequila, the wine has a light to dark straw yellow color mixed with pure gold, dark amber with copper to pale red, and earthy yellow (loose). Wine has aromas of flowers and fruits, herbs, the wine has hints of sweet candy, vanilla, and aromas of butter (butyric acid). The scent of alcohol is moderate. Brewed Tequila is soft, slightly sweet and full of fruit flavors. The wine has a delicate bitter taste, the alcohol taste ranges from mild to moderate, with a sharp taste. The wine also has a slight woody taste mixed with floral and orange/lemon flavors, vanilla and caramel flavors. The concentration level of the wine ranges from light to heavy.

For long-brewed tequila, the wine has a moderate to dark straw yellow color mixed with pure gold, dark amber mixed with copper to light red, earthy yellow (loose). The main aroma of this variant is the smell of wood. In addition, the wine has dry fruit, chili, vanilla, woody, caramel, smoky and slightly bitter flavors, and a hint of ripe fruit (apple, banana, pineapple). In some cases, a slight herbal taste can be felt. The concentration level of the wine ranges from light to heavy.

For longer-brewed tequila, the wine has a moderate to dark straw yellow color mixed with pure gold, light to dark amber mixed with copper to a light red, earthy yellow hue. The main scent is chocolate, caramel and maple, with floral and fruit aromas, a little smoke, peppers, nuts and berries, and moderate alcohol aromas. The wine has a combination of dried fruit, chili, vanilla, wood, maple, ripe fruit (apple, pineapple and banana), sweet and smoky, astringent, with a bit of bitterness. The wine has a moderate alcohol taste. The concentration level of the wine ranges from light to heavy.

Tequila has an alcohol content of 35 to 55% (alcohol volume) at a temperature of 20oC. The dry extract of silver tequila is from 0 to 0.3 (g/l), while that of golden tequila, brewed tequila, long-brewed tequila, and longer-brewed tequila is from 0 to 5 (g) /l). Higher alcohols (alcohols with a higher molecular weight than ethyl alcohol) range from 20 to 500 (mg/100 ml). Methanol is between 30 and 300 (mg/100 ml). Aldehydes (like acetaldehyde) are between 0 and 40 (mg/100 ml). The ester (as ethyl acetate) of silver tequila, and golden tequila is between 2 and 200 (mg/100 ml) and for brewed tequila, long-brewed tequila, and longer-brewed tequila is between 2 and 250 (mg/100 ml). Furfural is from 0 to 4 (mg/100 ml).

The unique features of Tequila are due to the specificity of the geographical area and the production traditions of the locals. The geographical area for the production of raw materials is defined at altitudes ranging from 600 meters to 2,500 meters above sea level. Temperatures in these areas range from 5ºC to 28ºC with annual rainfall ranging from 600 mm to 1,800 mm. In addition, the clays in these areas have a medium texture and low water retention that has a pH between 6.0 and 8.0. All of these conditions contribute to the uniqueness of the Weber Tequilaza agave plant from which tequila is made.

In addition to geographical areas with suitable conditions for developing raw materials for wine production, Mexico is the only country that has traditionally produced wine from the Tequilana Weber agave plant. Before the Spanish invasion, alcoholic beverages made from the agave plant were mainly produced by hydrolysis and fermentation methods. However, there was a unique blend of Spanish and Mexican cultures when the Spaniards provided and applied the distillation process to produce alcoholic beverages from the agave plant to make Tequila.

Figure 2. Extraction process

Tequila can only be produced from the core of the Tequilana Weber plant. In order for Agave trees to survive and thrive in a changing climate, knowledgeable and experienced farmers are required, who are required to join the Tequila Geographical Indications Management Council. To harvest the core of the agave tree, people use a shovel-like tool weighing about 2 kg with the body of a long wooden stick, attached to the end is a flat, round, sharp metal plate to skillfully cut the leaves from the core of the agave tree. This is the specific method of cutting leaves applied to the Tequilana Weber plant during the production of Tequila. In the production of tequila, besides applying modern techniques, some traditional processes are still used such as moving around a stone wheeled device pulled by a mule to crush the core of the agave and collect the juice or using the method of hydrolysis by cooking the wort underground.

To make Tequila, the following steps are required: raw materials from the core of the Tequilana Weber plant are either cooked or hydrolyzed, then, the step of separating and extracting sugar or starch from the fiber is carried out. For 100% tequila, the separated ingredients are put straight into the fermentation process after mixing with the only ingredient, sugar obtained from the core of the agave plant. For Tequila, the minimum mixing ratio is 51% sugar from the core of the Agave tree and 49% from other sugars. Distillation was performed immediately afterward. Distillation is carried out at least twice. This process ends only when the resulting product is a liquid with a minimum alcohol content of 35% by volume. The producer adds demineralized water to stabilize the alcohol content of the tequila between 35 - 55% before bottling. In addition to the silver and gold tequila that is bottled right away, the brewed wines will be brewed in bottles, oak, or green oak barrels. Brewed Tequila is brewed for a minimum of 2 months to a maximum of 1 year. Long-brewed Tequila is brewed for a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years, and longer-brewed Tequila is brewed for a minimum of 3 years in a container not larger than 600 liters in capacity.

Figure 3. Fermentation

The geographical area includes 5 states of Mexico, specifically:

JALISCO State: Acatic, Acatlán de Juárez, Ahualulco de Mercado, Amacueca, Amatitán, Ameca, San Juanito de Escobedo, Arandas, El Arenal, Atemajac de Brizuela, Atengo, Atenguillo, Atotonilco el Alto, Atoyac, Autlán de Navarro, Ayotlán, Ayutla, La Barca, Bolaños, Cabo Corrientes, Casimiro Castillo, Cihuatlán, Zapotlán el Grande, Cocula, Colotlán, Concepción de Buenos Aires, Cuautitlán de García Barragán, Cuautla, Cuquío, Chapala, Chimaltitán, Chiquilistlán, Degollado, Ejutla, Encarnación de Díaz, Etzatlán, El Grullo, Guachinango, Guadalajara, Hostotipaquillo, Huejúcar, Huejuquilla el Alto, La Huerta, Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, Ixtlahuacán del Río, Jalostotitlán, Jamay, Jesus María, Jilotlán de los Dolores, Jocotepec, Juanacatlán, Juchitlán, Lagos de Moreno, El Limón, Magdalena, Santa María del Oro, La Manzanilla de la Paz, Mascota, Mazamitla, Mexticacán, Mezquitic, Mixtlán, San Ignacio Cerro Gordo, Ocotlán, Ojuelos de Jalisco, Pihuamo, Poncitlán, Puerto Vallarta, Villa Purificación, Quitupan, El Salto, San Cristóbal de la Barranca, San Diego de Alejandría, San Juan de los Lagos, San Julián, San Marcos, San Martín de Bolaños, San Martín de Hidalgo, San Miguel del Alto, Gómez Farías, San Sebastián del Oeste, Santa María de los Angeles, Sayula, Tala, Talpa de Allende, Tamazula de Gordiano, Tapalpa, Tecalitlán, Tecolotlán, Techaluta de Montenegro, Tenamaxtlán, Teocaltiche, Teocuitatlán de Corona, Tepatilán de Morelos, Tequila, Teuchitlán, Tizapán el Alto, Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Tlaquepaque, Tolimán, Tomatlán, Tonalá, Tonaya, Tonila, Totatiche, Tototlán, Tuxcacuesco, Tuxcueca, Tuxpan, Unión de San Antonio, Unión de Tula, Valle de Guadalupe, Valle de Juárez, San Gabriel, Villa Corona, Villa Guerrero, Villa Hidalgo, Cañadas de Obregón, Yahualica de González Gallo, Zacoalco de Torres, Zapopan, Zapotiltic, Zapotitlán de Vadillo, Zapotlán del Rey, Zapotlanejo.

GUANAJUATO State: Abasolo, Ciudad Manuel Doblado, Cuerámaro, Huaníramo, Penjamo, Purísima del Rincón and Romita.

State of MICHOACAN: Briseñas de Matamoros, Chavinda, Chilchota, Churintzio, Regules, Cotija, Ecuandureo, Jacona, Jiquilpan, La Piedad, Los Reyes, Maravatio, Marcos Castellanos, Nuevo Parangaricutiro, Numarán, Pajacuararo, Tangcuanand Saítbán, Tanhuato, Tinguindín, Tocumbo, Venustiano Carranza, Villamar, Vistahermosa, Yurecuaro, Zamora and Zináparo.

NAYARIT State: Ahuacatlan, Amatlan de Cañas, Ixtlán, Jala, Jalisco, San Pedro Lagunillas, Santa María del Oro and Tepic.

State of TAMAULIPAS: Aldama, Altamira, Antiguo Morelos, Gómez Farías, González, Liera, Mante, Nuevo Morelos, Ocampo, Tula and Xicotencatl.

Center for Examining Geographical Indication and International Trademark