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« Visualize Furred Peace | Main | Song of the Day: They Never Got You »

28 April 2006

Belushi's Visit to Coturri

Coturri_sidebar_1 (Editor's note: This is part of a new weekend series of posts by guest authors, who are fellow bloggers or Basic Juice readers.  If you are new to wine blogging, host a blog out in the remote reaches of wineblogistan, a wine maker or you're simply someone who enjoys writing about food & wine; contact me with a post proposal, and we'll see if we can't introduce the world to your handiwork.)

Guest Athor: Paul White of Coturri Winery (California)

Noble Rot
John Belushi's visit to Coturri Winery
"when mother nature molds your vines; make a select late harvest dessert wine"

Just before his 33rd birthday (January 24, 1982), John Belushi spent a day at  Coturri Winery - playing basketball with Tony Coturri, doing comedic pratfalls  and drinking some Zinfandel.  With Belushi were Tom Smothers and Don  Novello (aka Father Guido Sarducci).  It was a cold day, but they weren’t  deterred from “shooting some hoops”.

What were John Belushi, Tom Smothers, and Father Guido doing at Coturri  Winery? They were on a scouting mission looking for scene locations for an illfated film that was never produced called "Noble Rot". Some say that John  went on a downward spiral after this screenplay was rejected by Hollywood.  A  little bit of proof to this theory is that pages of the “Noble Rot” script were found  littering the bungalow in which Belushi died. Here’s the six degrees of  separation story:

What were John Belushi, Tom Smothers, and Father Guido doing at Coturri  Winery? They were on a scouting mission looking for scene locations for an illfated film that was never produced called "Noble Rot". Some say that John  went on a downward spiral after this screenplay was rejected by Hollywood.  A  little bit of proof to this theory is that pages of the “Noble Rot” script were found  littering the bungalow in which Belushi died. Here’s the six degrees of  separation story: 

Tom Smothers has a beautiful 50-acre spread of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot  vines on a hilltop that separates Kenwood and Glen Ellen called Remick Ridge.   Phil Coturri has been for many years, (and still is) the grape grower for Remick  Ridge.  In fact, Coturri Winery used to buy grapes from Smothers. The Wine  Advocate (Robert M. Parker, Jr.) gave the Coturri 1990 Cabernet Remick  Ridge Vineyards a 90 rating.   

Well, Don Novello was a friend with yo-yo master Smothers, having started his  career as a performer on The Smothers Brothers Show where he first  introduced the Father Guido routine. Novello went on to Saturday Night Live,  and later as a SNL writer.  Don Novello contacted friend and neighbor Tom  Smothers to help them find a setting for the movie.

During this time, Belushi was smarting from career flops he made (“Neighbors”  and “1941”) and wanted to have more control of the movie projects he was  involved in.  So when he first read the screenplay for “Sweet Deception” (later  re-titled “Noble Rot”) John required as a condition to his participation – the  staring role and the right to rewrite the script.   

Together with fellow SNL alum Novello, they spent nearly one year tweaking  the plot that originally started out as “Sweet Deception” - a romantic comedy  adventure about a young unsophisticated guy who takes a new California wine  to a New York wine tasting contest, falls in love, becomes involved with a  diamond smuggling ring and grows up in the process. 

Belushi and Novello made major changes to the story and gave it a new title  "Noble Rot" which put forward Belushi's vision of what this film was all about –  ‘when life gives you lemons you make lemonade’ – or expressed in wine speak  – ‘when mother nature molds your vines make a select late harvest  dessert wine’.  The film title is a play on the winemaking term for Botrytis, or  noble rot a fungus that can either destroy an entire crop of grapes or lead to  noble rot wines like the legendary Chateau d'Yquem - a French Sauterne that  is deliciously smooth and sweet.

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