Italian – ness:  [It-al-iyan-iss] Noun.  1. The state of being Italian.  2. To be or to personify Italian spirit.  3. The thoughts and feelings, collectively, of an individual or of an aggregate of a culture of people, places, and things, which happen to be Italian.

I think that a sense of “Italianess” is more present in the wines from Italy than perhaps any other wine producing country in the world.  I would like to say there is “Frenchness” or “Spanish” but there is not to the extent that there is in Italian wines.  I have thought this for a very long time.  Long before I ever even really started to think about wine seriously, in fact.  I would taste an Italian wine and think:  “My god, this just tastes Italian!”  And I think that almost every time I drink Italian wines, (which I do frequently by the way).  Anyway, opening a bottle of Natalino Del Preto, 2009 Salice Salentino Rosso over a very simple dinner I could not help being impressed by the “Italianess” of this simple, yet incredibly satisfying wine.  There is nothing to fault with this wine:   it is cheap, it is delicious, and it is clearly Italian.  Amen!

I will fore go my impression of said wine here and just give you the review from Chambers Street Wines (which I think sums up what I would say, and more).  This bottle was purchased for the paltry sum of $12.49.  You might pay at least this much for a glass of wine in a mediocre restaurant, or you can pick up some of these babies and impress your friends and colleagues with a bottle instead.

Natalino Del Prete 2009 Salice Saletino, Terre Nova – $12.49

“In the past much wine from Puglia was not very well made, and now much wine from Puglia is simply anonymous and dull. This is a wine with terrific energy and verve, very old school and rustic, with dark leathery and herbaceous aromatics (is there an Italian term that’s equivalent for garrigue?), and very savory on the palate. Made mostly from the local Negroamaro, this is no shy wine, but speaks of the dry and hot land it comes from without being out of balance or too high in alcohol. We have a soft spot for Natalino del Prete, whose lifelong devotion to his vines has saved a very classic wine for our pleasure. Farmed and vinified following organic principles.”  -Chambers Street Wines  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – EXCELLENT VALUE