Natural Resistance

On Monday 20th March director of Natural Resistance Jonathan Nossiter comes in house at Terroirs for the Cellar Cinema screening of his film. Tickets include two glasses of wine, from the vineyards featured in the movie, followed by a Q&A.

Jonathan Nossiter’s Mondovino, a documentary about the globalisation of the wine industry was short-listed for the Palme D’Or in Cannes in 2004, one of only three documentaries ever nominated in the history of the festival. Although he didn’t foresee returning to the topic, until a couple of summers ago when he found himself in Tuscany, seated with a small group of Italian artisan winemakers dedicated to resisting the prevalent use of chemicals. Nossiter instinctively turned on his camera and continued to follow these subjects against the sun-kissed backdrop of Italian vineyards. These protagonists of a rapidly spreading European natural wine revolution exemplify the movement’s ecological and cultural ideals, one winemaker says, “It’s about respect for everything” — not only nature, but also workers and customers.

The movie follows four vignaioli (vignerons), two of them familiar to aficionados of Les Caves de Pyrene wines, Elena Pantaleoni (La Stoppa) and the loquacious Stefano Bellotti (Cascina degli Ulivi); we walk with them through their beautiful, healthy vineyards, whilst they discuss the history and culture of their respective wine regions, and the nature of appellation, whilst calling into question the often stupid and stupefying bureaucracy that stifles integrity.

Unfortunately, the DOC association, which is supposed to look after the interest of independent vintners, promotes winemakers who produce vast amounts in a standardised quality; and the agricultural industry with its hygiene regulations excludes traditional methods of production. With the help of a film curator friend who contributes treasures from the archives, the documentary compares the restoration of this cinematic heritage with wine culture and reveals surprising connections between intellectual nourishment and bodily sustenance.

As Jonathan himself observes: “What these vignaioli have accomplished in the space of a decade is truly remarkable. While other artistic and artisanal activities -auteur cinema, literature, activist journalism, architecture inter alia, are in a precipitous decline in terms of both influence and invention, in the world of wine this disparate group of rebels has created a legitimate renaissance. They’ve awakened a growing understanding of wine as a vector of historical memory, as a progressive expression of cultural identity, as an agent of good health and joy at the table and as a beacon in the fight to re-instil (biological) life into the land. And, most improbably, they’re carving out a rapidly expanding niche in the sacred marketplace, both in Italy and abroad, with importers from Brazil to Japan now seeking out exclusively natural wines.”

This is a fascinating, often provocative and always warm-hearted documentary that provides insights into the everyday lives of small artisan wine growers as they struggle to realise their dream to make beautiful living natural wines.

Click here to buy tickets, or you can get them directly from Terroirs restaurant at 5 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DN.