Cultural Insurrection

Natural Wine and Agriculture to the Rescue

Cultural Insurrection

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

272 pp


Trade Paperback

From the director of Mondovino, a lively discussion of the expanding world of natural wine that considers the movement as a potential remedy for our current cultural crisis.

What if, ten years from now, an artist–a filmmaker, for example–will have become as marginal and anachronistic as a blacksmith? What if the actors in the cultural world are on the brink of extinction, not about to disappear like prehistoric animals, but worse–submitting to the status quo? Absorbed by a marketplace that increasingly devalues true artistic work?

In Cultural Insurrection, award-winning filmmaker and sommelier Jonathan Nossiter considers these questions and offers a solution inspired by the rebellious, innovative figures transforming the way we produce and consume wine. This new generation of artisans, working closely with the earth to create exceptional natural wines, has assumed the role of dissenters that artists have abandoned, and we should look to them in order to revitalize contemporary art.

Excerpt from Cultural Insurrection

Tasting these wines that were so much less polished, less accommo-dating—sometimes downright crazy compared to what I knew— I began to feel the same sort of excitement that the anticonformist cinema of Fellini, Fassbinder, and Cassavetes had provoked in me more than twenty years before. I was tasting reds that were lighter bodied, more taut and acidic than the fuller, more alcoholic, sweeter wines that had dominated the marketplace since the “go-go, Coca- Cola, and cocaine” 80s. But the rupture with what had become conventional white wine was even more radical. Like a certain self- consciously spare indie filmmaking style of the 1980s, white wine had been neutered—either stripped of its content and made colorless and odorless or it touched the other extreme, made overstuffed and cloyingly sweet, like Hollywood’s 1980s love affair with bloated bimbos, steroidal special effects, and saccharine comedies.

In complete contrast, the natural white wines I was discovering were often tannic, aromatic, and deeply colored, sometimes even orangey-amber and always in a saline, bitingly acidic, down-to-earth register. These whites astounded me for their tactility and their vitality.

It took me a while to understand that I was tasting the shock of the new but also the shock of the old. As with any moment of cultural rupture, the act of innovation cannot have any enduring value unless it is also a profound regeneration of the past. In this case, I was tasting wines that I would discover were renewing, in a contemporary idiom, a tradition stretching back at least eight thousand years, a tradition sundered only after World War II with the global imposition of chemical agriculture.

“Nossiter’s thoughtfully refreshing book places wine in its rightful cultural position; not merely a beverage but a profound symbol of humanity.” —Alice Feiring, author of Natural Wine for the People

Praise for Mondovino: The Series:

“Subtle, full-bodied, characterful, blessed with a long, elegant finish that keeps you thinking…likely to leave you thirsting for more.” —TIME OUT

“Thought provoking, witty, and entertaining.” —USA Today

“Although Nossiter set out merely to find the character behind the wine industry, he ended up with a poignant look at some important issues, including deforestation, the corporation versus the independent company, and even communism. The result is an inside examination of a world very few people see.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“A thoroughly engrossing deep dive into the world of winemaking…Nossiter, a former Sundance winner and a sommelier–now there’s a combination–knows his stuff and asks all the right questions.” —The Hollywood Reporter