Cultural Insurrection

A Manifesto For The Arts, Agriculture, And Natural Wine

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

272 pp


List Price US $10.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-827-4

Trade Paperback

List Price US $17.99
Trim Size (H x W): 5.25 x 8
ISBN: 978-1-59051-826-7

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] writing is always provocative and entertaining. An audacious manifesto that restores the broken bond between culture and agriculture and finds vital inspiration for contemporary filmmaking in the natural wine movement.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The filmmaker and essayist Jonathan Nossiter has issued a bold and passionate call for ‘a new cultural ecology.’ Natural winemakers, farmers, and artists become coequals in a restoration of humanism and intellectual life that begins in the humble soil. Providing inspiring portraits of artisans who are already pointing the way forward, Cultural Insurrection is a bracing proposal for anyone in despair about the stranglehold of corporatism and celebrity on our souls and the environmental degradation of our planet.” —Michael Greenberg, author of Hurry Down Sunshine

“What a firecracker of a book: a passionate, humane, wonderfully idiosyncratic call to arms that audaciously proposes the natural wine movement as a model for the insurrections our era so desperately needs, and succeeds brilliantly!” —James Lasdun, author of The Fall Guy 

“A luminous, surprising essay.” —Le Figaro

“An ambitious, erudite, and sharp book…[Nossiter] make[s] inspired connections between…wine and film, agriculture and culture.” —L’Obs

“An invigorating read.” —Biodynamis