“Gold” & “Liquid Gold” On This Week’s Podcast

This week’s “Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” podcast on reVolver Podcasts, highlights two new films in theaters now, including “Gold” with Oscar-winning Texas actor, Matthew McConaughey as the real life owner of a mining company and the crazy ride on Wall Street when he took the company public in the 1990’s. And Annette Bening is just about perfect in a terrific movie about a group of liberated women raising a teenage boy in the late 1970’s, it’s called “20th Century Women.”

To pair with “Gold” it seemed only appropriate to open a bottle of “liquid gold,” also known as Napa Valley’s sweet dessert wine, Dolce. A little bit more on “Gold” and why Dolce is a golden elixir, below. We will have some notes on “20th Century Women,” and the wines of the two incredible Napa Valley, female vintners I paired with this coming of age film, posted shortly.

A link to the show is here, just click “Episode 33.” And, be sure to subscribe via iTunes, Spotify, IHeartRadio or Google Play Music.


The Film: “Gold”

On the surface,”Gold” has the look and feel of a significant rags to riches film only to end up messy and convoluted.

Oscar winning Texas actor, Matthew McConaughey, plays Kenny Wells, a real life prospector  who teams up with an intense geologist played well by Edgar Ramirez (Zero Dark Thirty, Che, Point Break). They strike it rich in Indonesia and eventually take their little mining operation public on the NY Stock Exchange (Bre-X) only to find more problems and more chaos.

Director Stephen Gaghan (Syriana) has created an unlikeable film filed with characters who don’t make much sense and often feel contrived. Dallas Bryce Howard tries her best to elevate the film but is surrounded by such selfishness she eventually gives up. There is a lot of bad Karma in “Gold” and it seems self inflicted.

“Gold” is well photographed and provides a sparkling music score that might be the best part of watching this on again, off again film. The performance by McConaughey is a bit baffling and over the top, both vocally and physically. Maybe Mr. Wells was like that in real life, but I have a feeling a bit more nuance and subtlety would have helped in telling his story.

“Gold” is not a bad film but it’s certainly not a good film. It’s a movie in the middle that keeps drifting lower and lower as it proceeds. A late arriving Oscar contender from an actor who has been there before and a director who knows how to make good movies.

Just not this one.

The Wine: Dolce

dolceConsidered one of the most prized wines in the world, botryitized sweet dessert wine, produced in regions like Sauternes, France, and Tokaji, Hungary is considered the wine of Kings and Tsars, and an elixir of the Gods. In Napa Valley, perhaps no one creates this sweet wine better than Dolce.

Produced by leaving ripe Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes on the vine late into the harvest season, allowing a mold called botrytis cinerea, commonly known as noble rot, to attack the grapes if the weather conditions are conducive. The botrytis shrivels the grapes, essentially evaporating the water, thus concentrating the sugars and flavors.

Botrytized Semillon grapes
Botrytized Semillon grapes

With a painstakingly focused process, grapes are hand picked in individual clusters, partial clusters or even single berries over several weeks, making multiple passes through the vineyards to pick only the grapes that have achieved the right amount of botrytis at a time. The harvest usually lasts six weeks or more, ending in late November or early December when temperatures have cooled and fruit becomes highly concentrated. Then the fragile grapes are pressed to release their rich, sugary juice, which is then barrel fermented and aged in 100 percent French oak for 3 years for Dolce.

It’s unpredictable year-to-year if any botrytis will develop in the vineyard and if so, how thoroughly it will spread. After the botrytis attacks the fruit, which normally will yield 4-5 tons of fruit for the winery, the vineyard yields only about one ton of useable grapes per acre.

The resulting sweet wine is filled with honey, orange blossom, candied lemon peel and stone fruit. Though very concentrated, and syrupy sweet, there is also freshness and juicy citrus notes in the wine with layered acidity lingering through, to show this is a wine that will continue to age.


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