Pressing Matters with Michelle Melick

Pressing Matters is a small vineyard in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley owned by Michelle and Greg Melick. Together they produce award-winning wine that is complex and full of character. Just like its makers. 

We were lucky enough to meet Michelle at our Tassie adventure and wrap our tastebuds around the luscious Pressing Matters 139 Riesling and the 2014 Pinot Noir. We called for a chat over coffee to find out how they came about.

You’re originally from Tassie. What was it like growing up on the island? 
I remember long, hot summer days and seemingly endless school holidays. I’ve had time living on the mainland but I think that the air down here and the quality of life is so beautiful. I love living in Tasmania, even as an adult. 

When you were 17 you joined the Army Reserve. Did you enjoy it?
I loved my job. I didn’t want to go down the typical female army route so I joined the Infantry unit, the signals side, where I met my husband, Greg. I had amazing opportunities but it became a little difficult when we had children. They’re between 26 and 30 years old now. That seems like a lifetime ago!

Greg had always said to me, although I had chosen to ignore it, that he would love to buy some land and make some wine.

Did you ever think you would be making wine? 
Greg had always said to me, although I had chosen to ignore it, that he would love to buy some land and make some wine. There was a farm next door to our friend's vineyard – Morningside, they’re one of the originals – and he said if it ever came up for sale…it did and the rest is history. He is passionate about wine and where he goes, I follow.  

He sounds like a bit of a character!
Greg is a Type A personality, on the go all the time, wearing many different hats. Primarily he is a barrister, he has also been in the Army Reserve for over 50 years so he’s busy with that, but wine is his greatest passion. He has an amazing palate.

How long has Pressing Matters been operating? 
16 years. We planted the first riesling in 2002 and the next year the pinot. 

What made you choose those varieties particularly?  
Greg believes they are the classic and noble grapes. He particularly enjoys the wine from Moselle and Burgundy, so wanted to make rieslings that were in the Germanic style and pinot with a lot of character. Our riesling took off and won lots of awards in the first few years, the pinot followed but took a bit longer. You need vine age for depth of flavour.

James Halliday described your Pressing Matters 139 Riesling as, ‘Intense and luscious citrus with lime overtones. Balancing acidity creates great length’. Did he get it right?
I think he did a very good job of that. It’s a dessert wine but the acid and sugar are balanced so it doesn’t leave your mouth feeling like it’s stuck together. It's very clean. The lovely intense flavours in all our wines come from the cracking clay and limestone that we grow on. A fabulous site.

We have a great community down here and the wine community in itself is lovely. What could be more blissful than drinking wine?

We also tried your 2014 Pinot Noir. How would you describe it?
Complex and full of character. We have over 20 different clones and clones on different root stock. Each ripens at a different time and is individually hand-picked, processed, fermented and barrelled. After nine months, Greg, Samantha Connew, our winemaker, and Matt our Manager, line lines up a glass from each barrel and give them a point score to determine what goes into the final blend. It’s a laborious process.

What is it like to be in the vineyard at harvest time? 
Manic. We have a great team, led by Matt, usually backpackers from France or Italy who have some vineyard experience. They pick under the nets, the tractor fills up and we process the pinot here at the vineyard. The riesling grapes get popped into big bins and taken away for processing. My favourite part is cooking morning tea for the pickers. I’ve made an old fashioned rhubarb cake, apple slice, scones with jam and cream, cacao bliss balls for the paleo’s, chocolate slice – I try and vary it up for them. 

Does everyone in the area band together at that time or is it every man for himself because it’s so frantic? 
Everyone is helpful. There’s a vineyard down the road we lend our net machine to and the owner will come back on one of the vintage days and give us a hand by driving the tractor. We have a great community down here and the wine community in itself is lovely. What could be more blissful than drinking wine?

And our final question – what are your 3 favourite places to eat in Tasmania? 
My first is Fico in Macquarie Street, Hobart. Absolutely amazing food. Beautifully presented and the flavours are so fresh.The next is Syra in Salamanca Square, which is a modern take on Middle Eastern Lebanese. My husband Greg is Lebanese but he doesn’t cook it at home so I have to go to his Mum or Syra to get my fix. The third is Me Wah – a five star place in Sandy Bay. Beautiful Chinese food.

Find Pressing Matters at Aria, Bennelong, David Jones, Quay, Tetsuya’s, William Blue Dining in Sydney, shop online or book in for a tasting at the cellar door.