Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Salt Cellar is its location. A wine cellar, not in the Winelands, may seem a bit of an anomaly but Tim Martin is out to alter preconceptions. We spent five minutes chatting to him about this exciting new space and the wine he’s making in it.
Tell us a bit about Salt Cellar and how it came about?
I worked in finance in London until 2009 when I started investigating doing ‘something’ in the wine business. It was something I always wanted to do; I realised if not now then never. That lead me to do first the WSET courses, then a Wine Management MSc course through the OIV. Up to this point I had been trying to find a better way to distribute wine because everything I knew told me that making wine was a very bad financial decision! Finally, I did a harvest in 2011 in Burgundy, helping out a friend with his first vintage and made peace with the fact that what I really wanted to do was make wine. This lead to a course in winemaking and viticulture at the wine school in Beaune, Burgundy.
After seriously considering settling in Burgundy, homesickness, the terrible winters and a sense of excitement and possibility in the Cape wine scene brought me back to Cape Town to stay in 2012. I initially pursued an opportunity to invest in an existing business but when that did not work out, I was determined to make some wine so I did the 2013 harvest in a custom crush winery. While I was initially happy with the wines, they suffered some microbial problems during the ageing process and I made the difficult decision not to bottle them. In the mean time I had bought and renovated ‘salt cellar’ during 2013 and just kicked the builders out in time to make the (recently bottled, soon to be released) 2014 wines there.
From where are the grapes harvested?
In 2014: Mothership (Joostenberg Chenin WO Paarl), Chad (Paardeberg Chenin WO Swartland), Kaiser (Kasteelsig Mourvèdre WO Swartland)
In 2015: Mothership, Kaiser, Hitch (Malmesbury Mourvèdre WO Swartland), Bear (Helderberg Tinta Barocca WO Stellenbosch)
What’s your flagship wine and how would you describe it?
Mothership. It is from an old (50 years plus) block of Chenin Blanc which I have been farming organically with some Permaculture and Biodynamic techniques since the 2013 Harvest. It is a rich wine but also has a good tension, minerality and length.