Certainly autumn brings to mind hearty red wines to serve with hearty fare, but to me it’s also the season for riesling, a multifarious and versatile wine that pairs well with mild pork and veal dishes, with turkey and chicken, with some fish preparations and many kinds of soup. Here today, then, I offer two rieslings, an inexpensive example from Washington state and a more expensive but splendid model of the grape from Napa Valley.
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Made all in stainless steel, the Joel Gott Riesling 2009, from the Ancient Lake region of Washington’s Columbia Valley, displays a pure, chilly minerality of dusty limestone and shale. Aromas of green apple and pear are joined by a handful of smoky potpourri and lavender, followed by a characteristic whiff of rubber eraser (some writers call this essential element “petrol” or “diesel”). As the wine warms gently in the glass, it exhibits more richness and gains body, depth and sleekness. Flavors of ripe lemons and pears with backnotes of peach and quince take on increasing earthiness and limestone, as well as a seductive floral quality, like honeysuckle or jasmine. Lovely and enticing. 12.8 percent alcohol. Very Good+, and a Knockout Bargain at about $12.
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Last week I mentioned the Trefethen Dry Riesling 2008, from the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, as one of the wines I would serve at Thanksgiving dinner, and that was indeed the case. (We drank a second bottle with penne pasta and butternut squash sauce.) Along with that wine, I purchased a bottle of the rendition from 2007, to check on the progress of its development; at three years after harvest, it’s perfection. I opened the Trefethen Dry Riesling 2007 last night to sip with a white bean, bacon and red kale soup; first comment: “Wow, wonderful!” The color is radiant medium gold. The complete effect is of a wine that’s deep and rich and spicy but reined-in by the rigorous balancing agencies of whiplash acidity and a scintillating tide of limestone-and-oyster-shell-like minerality. Beguiling aromas of ripe peach and pear are permeated by light roasted and macerated tones as well as a crystalline hint of candied quince and ginger and a wafting of jasmine. This feels just fabulous on the palate, moderately lush, peachy and silky yet tremendously crisp and vibrant. It’s very petrolly on the nose, and that notion should intensify as the wine matures toward 2012 or ’13 and progresses into a state of pure minerality. 13 percent alcohol. Excellent. I paid $23; you see it on the Internet as low as $17.
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