The Merlot grape was overdone in the 1990s and its popularity resulted in a lot of vintners hurrying sub-par product out the door in a rush to make a buck on a hot varietal. The result of that haste has been a Merlot back-lash where individuals who tried the wine and were dissatisfied with a lousy product have not yet come back.
There has recently been, thankfully, a new intense focus on the variety and resurgence in the qualities which made Merlot popular in the first place: Complexity, approachability, food-friendliness and price. In terms of classical music: Merlot is the easily approachable Beethoven while Cabernet Sauvignon is the more challenging Brahms.
We never carried Red Truck in the restaurant because it is widely distributed and its low price point firmly established. This brand was featured at my local wine shop (and gas station) alongside of the Red Bicyclette brand wines and I gave each a try last summer. Both were good. Red Truck was better.
My impressions: Medium-to-dark ruby in color. Über complexity bundled into a very reasonably priced wine. There is a lot going on in this wine and it is all good. Very full mouth-feel with smoky, juicy grapes, cherries, and pepper with a long, lingering finish. Firmly tannic.
Would pair very well with wild game, or beef, or most any other red meat. It would excel should the entrée feature a hearty mushroom, cream or butter based sauce. Very approachable. It is a wine engineered for food and whose finest characteristics shine as a continuo against which the richness of the meal is played.
I paid $9.99 for my bottle of the 2006 Red Truck Merlot and note that the 2007 vintage is selling for $10.99 at the same store. I have not yet tried the 2007 vintage but will do so in the coming weeks and will let you know how it turns out.