CellarTracker is a fascinating tool. It is the world's most successful Wine 2.0 site, with over 66,000 registered users, 10,000,000 bottles entered into inventory, and over 700,000 user-written tasting notes. I use it to monitor the reviews of Tablas Creek wines on an almost-daily basis (1017 have been written so far). Part of this is simple curiosity, but it's also a useful tool in assessing what stage different wines are in. I can see how reviews of a single wine have changed over time and get a sense of when it may be entering or leaving a closed stage, or whether there is any trending of positive or negative feedback about a specific wine. Obviously, there is no guarantee that a particular reviewer is qualified, but there is lots of data that suggests the intelligence of humans when taken in aggregate. Even better, CellarTracker is free both to view and to use.
Another way in which CellarTracker allows you to group data is by drinking date. Most days, this wouldn't be particularly interesting (who cares what people are drinking on, say, December 1st?) but on holidays you can get a snapshot of what people are opening for their celebrations. As of this post, there were nearly 6000 bottles marked as consumed on November 27, 2008 (Thanksgiving Day).
The most popular wines, probably unsurprisingly, were largely American and focused on big names in Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. The top 10 included Kistler, Seghesio, Kosta Browne, Ridge, Turley and Williams Selyem. I was more interested to find out where we finished, and was pleasantly surprised that I only had to get to page two, where we're currently tied for 39th-most popular. This seems at first to be pretty pedestrian (who ever looks forward to being 39th-best at anything?) but we're the top domestic producer of primarily Rhone varietals on the list, and the second most popular Paso Robles producer after Justin.
I was also interested to see that Beaucastel was the top non-Champagne French producer (tied with Duboeuf) and 16th-most-popular overall.
In my last post, I focused on the Thanksgiving wine suggestions of various key Tablas Creek staff. I was impressed by the diversity of opinion, as seven different staff suggested seven different wines. And we do feel that nearly everything that we make (fruity unoaked reds, rich whites and dry rose) does pretty well with the diversity of flavors on the Thanksgiving table. And, confirming our in-house opinions, the sixteen bottles of Tablas Creek drunk on Thanksgiving day were all different -- not a single repeat.
What does this mean? I'm not sure. Clearly, the most popular wine on Thanksgiving tables around the country is not Kistler, whatever CellarTracker records. There's just not enough of it, and it's a little pricey for the average consumer. Still, CellarTracker is a big community of committed wine enthusiasts, and I'm pleased that Tablas Creek wines show up as often as they do here, and get, overall, such nice reviews.
And I find the opportunity to rummage around, for free, in such a big, rich database nearly irresistible.
Note that credit for the initial idea for this post goes to Tyler Coleman (a.k.a. Dr. Vino), who in a recent post on his blog looked at CellarTracker's top wines drunk on Thanksgiving. His focus was a little different than mine, but it was his nudge that got me digging.