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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

JANCIS ROBINSON MW considers ever-increasing alcohol levels. 'I remember red Bordeaux with labels stating 10.5 and 11% alcohol unashamedly, but nowadays percentages of less than 13 are becoming a rarity, even in the temperate climate of Bordeaux,' she says. Indeed, in a desperate effort to get his name in the pages of Private Eye, Santa Barbara winemaker Bob Lindquist recently proclaimed that '15 is the new 14'. Robinson adds that a study of average alcohol levels in Napa Valley Cabernets shows that in the early 1970s the wines averaged about 13%, while in 2001 the average was 15.1%. That's the average. And with an EU ruling preventing 15+% wines being imported, unless a bilateral wine agreement has been enacted, as in the case of Chile and South Africa, those wines will never reach UK shores.