Around the turn of the century — the 21st century, that is — Fred and Nancy Cline bought — at an auction benefiting the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art — a painting of a classic, old red truck created by internationally renowned, Sonoma-based artist Dennis Ziemienski.
Since the Clines also happened to own Cline Cellars — a respected winery well-known for their Zinfandel and Rhone-style reds — they thought it would be cool to use the image of the red truck on a label. As a result, the 2002 vintage of Red Truck Wine was bottled — a Rhone-like blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre and Grenache. The wine was a success, perhaps as much for its neat-looking label as for the quality juice inside.
In 2005, the Clines sold the “Red Truck” brand to Dan Leese and Doug Walker, who retained Charlie Tsegeletos as the winemaker, and have since expanded the brand to include several reds, whites, and a pink.
No doubt you’ve seen the label in a wine shop somewhere — it’s hard to miss, and tugs at your heart. But can you judge a wine by its label, any more than a book by its cover?
A fair question, and well-dressed bottles have become more prevalent as wine marketers catch up to the latest trends in packaging. Certainly, a sharp label leads to more sales — at least, to first-time buyers. And as with books, the results are mixed — some of the fancied-up bottles contain good wines, others contain plonk. In the case of the Red Truck line, what I’ve sampled thus far has been fair to good.
For ten bucks, you can’t expect a wine to be life-changing, and that’s around the price you can expect to pay for Red Truck wines. Back in February, I recommended their “Pink Truck” as an option for Valentine’s Day, though it’s a bit too far to the sweet side for my taste. Since then I’ve also tried the “original” — the Red Truck Rhone-style red wine blend, and their “White Truck” white wine blend. Both were pleasing enough to justify their under-$9 price tag, and interesting enough that I’ll try other Red Truck wines as they appear on my local retailer’s shelf. For all three — the Red, White, and Pink — the flavor profiles should have mass appeal, and may be more appropriate as cocktail sippers than wines for the dinner table.
Check back later in the week for full reviews of the Red Truck Red Wine and White Truck White Wine.