Christmas Treats

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Christmas has always been a treat for me.  Spending time with friends and family is something I look forward to every year.  And every year I make the trek home to the small ‘burb of Frankfort, Kentucky to join in the celebration.  Now, most people wouldn’t exactly consider Frankfort a mecca for places to buy fine wine; however, thankfully, there is Red Dot.  Red Dot is located in Century Plaza, a rather non-descript and half-deserted shopping plaza in west Frankfort which many years ago was home to the local Wal-Mart.  From its humble exterior one would expect to find little more than Thunderbird or Gallo in jugs.  Surprisingly, it boasts a wide variety of wines, spirits and beers.  And even more interesting are the wines tucked away on shelves and in bins, the wines that have vintage dates a few years behind what is current.  This is the game I find exceedingly interesting:  Is the wine still drinking nicely, or has it passed its peak?  The following are the wines I enjoyed around Christmas this year.  Some of my notes are perhaps not quite as complete as I would normally publish, but one must remember these wines were tasted in a festive setting not conducive to note-taking!

Penfolds Riesling Adelaide Thomas Hyland 2007, Australia

Brilliant yellow-gold in color.  Intense notes of lemon-lime and green apple with lots of lip-smacking, refreshing acidity.  Racy, clean as a whistle and lots of mineral notes make this wine a delight as an aperitif.  Typical of Riesling’s versatility this wine even held its own against chips and spicy tomato salsa, the flavor sailing high on the searing heat of the habanero chili.  (dry white wine, 13.0% alcohol, Stelvin closure) Price at Red Dot: $12.99

Sucesores de Benito Santos Albariño Rías Baixas Igrexario de Saiar 2009, Spain

Albariño has long been one of my favorite white varieties with its lovely white peach and cream notes.  This wine showed its youthfulness with a yellow-gold color with a hint of green.  Refreshing with notes of green apple, white peach, pear and cream, this wine was a great partner with the Paella Valenciana that I prepared.  (dry white wine, 12.5% alcohol, natural cork closure)  Price at Red Dot: $15.99

Abadia Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Rívola Sardon de Duero 2003, Spain

Indicative of its age this wine is ruby-garnet in color and showing significant orange-brown at the rim.  This wine exhibited rich, complex dried red cherry and cranberry, dried tobacco, milk chocolate, and the Cabernet adding a streak of rich cassis.  Medium-full in body the wine showed a fairly long finish.  (dry red wine, 13.5% alcohol, natural cork closure)  Price at Red Dot: $13.99

Fitz-Ritter Pinot Noir QbA Trocken Pfalz 2005, Germany

Most people are surprised to find a German red wine, but in fact Germany’s annual production is about one-third red grapes, and Pinot Noir is considered one of their best.  This wine was ruby in color and exhibited notes of spicy cherry compote with vanilla.  Although pleasant enough, the wine was a bit short on acid and somewhat flabby.  (dry red wine, 13.0% alcohol, natural cork closure)  Price at Red Dot: $14.99

Shooting Star Blaufränkisch Washington Blue Franc 2008, USA

Blaufränkisch is an old black grape variety widely grown across Central and Eastern Europe.  Some of my favorite examples come from Lower Austria, but this tasty wine comes from Washington state.  According to Jed Steele’s website, he discovered significant plantings of the grape in Washington’s Yakima Valley in the 1990’s.  Winemakers there loved the grape but hated the name, Lemberger, the German moniker, which reminds one of the stinky cheese, Limburger.  Jed decided to use the Austrian name, Blaufränkisch, and added the English-friendly fantasy name “Blue Franc” to the label.  The attractive blue label is a rendition of the 50 French Franc note featuring Maurice Quentin de La Tour, a French Rococo portraitist who worked primarily with pastels and whose famous subjects included Voltaire and Louis XV.

The wine was a beautiful purple-ruby color.  It exhibited rich aromas and flavors of black cherries, typical of the variety, along with blueberry, blackberry and milk chocolate.  Although not aged in oak, this wine still exhibited a certain richness and was delightful to drink thanks to good acidity.  If you’re tired of the too-oaky Cabernet or the too-flabby Merlot, this would be a great alternative at a reasonable price.  (dry red wine, 13.5% alcohol, natural cork closure)  Price at Red Dot: $13.99

Red Dot Liquors is located at:
1139 US Highway 127 S
Frankfort, KY 40601
Teléfono: (502) 227-4001


About Gregg Smith

Gregg Smith is an American sommelier certified by The Court of Master Sommeliers living in Lima, Peru, and serving as director of the wine and bar program at Central Restaurante.
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2 Responses to Christmas Treats

  1. Pingback: Deleites de Navidad | El Blog de Vides y Vinos

  2. Jeff Kimbel says:


    Thanks for your observations! I’m very interested in your experiences in the wine business in Peru. Please contact me.

    — Jeff

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