WHAT connection could there possibly be between the "mad, bad and dangerous to know" English poet Lord Byron and an Australian wine brand?
The answer comes from two top-rank wine executives and friends who formed a partnership in 2010 for a winemaking operation in Western Australia's Great Southern Region.
The two, Paul Byron and Ralph Dunning, indulging a sense of playfulness, named it Byron and Harold - the latter being Ralph's christened first name and the title of the Lord Byron epic 1812 poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.
With 20-year Margaret River veteran Rory Parks as winemaker and bought-in grapes and leased vineyards and winery, Paul and Ralph gained an excellent following with their Great Southern wines and in 2015 added the Margaret River Region by purchasing the Moss Brothers brand.
That came about after Moss Brothers vineyard, but not the brand, established by viticulturist Jeff Moss at Wilyabrup in 1984 was bought in 2015 by the Amelia Park operation of Jeremy and Daniela Gordon and Peter Walsh.
Jeremy, a 2008 Jimmy Watson Trophy winner with his Flametreee 2007 Margaret River Cabernet Merlot, worked in the Hunter from 2001 to 2006 at Tamburlaine, Hope Estate and Little's wineries. At Margaret River, Paul Byron and Ralph Dunning followed the Great Southern formula of getting the Moss Brothers wines crafted by Rory Parks from bought-in premium grapes and leased vineyards and facilities.
Rory lives with his partner and young family in Margaret River, relishing working with its great grapes and surfing its famous waves.
When he can't get to the surf, he competes in his local underwater hockey team.
It's a highly successful strategy, recently evidenced when the now sold-out $28 Moss Brothers 2019 Moses Rock Cabernet Sauvignon was judged the best cabernet sauvignon at the 2022 London Wine Competition, which attracted more than 1300 entries from 36 countries.
Paul Byron, now 50, and Ralph Dunning, 68, became friends in 1995 when Paul was CEO of Margaret River's founding Vasse Felix company during his 25-year wine industry career and Ralph was in his 27-year leadership role in the Yalumba brand of the SA's family-owned Samuel Smith and Sons.
Ralph and his wife Anne have strong Hunter Valley links from their 25-year ownership of a 120-hectare beef cattle stud at Allyn River.
Byron and Harold's Great Southern and Margaret River ventures crush 500 to 600 tonnes of grapes a year producing 30,00 dozen cases of wine.
THIS multi-faceted Moss Brothers 2021 Moses Rock Chardonnay is brassy hued in the glass and displays orange blossom and crushed almond scents and lovely, elegant nectarine front-palate flavour. The middle palate has ruby grapefruit, apple peel, shortbread and cashew oak characters and slatey acid refreshes at the finish.
DRINK WITH: baked blue-eyed cod steaks.
AGEING: six years.
RATING: 5 stars (out of 6)
REGISTERING 14.3% alcohol and glowing deep purple, the Moss Brothers 2019 Moses Rock Shiraz beguiles with cassis aromas and vibrant, ripe plum front-palate flavour. The middle palate features mulberry, spice, caramel and savoury oak characters and dusty tannins come through at the finish.
DRINK WITH: roast shoulder of lamb with rosemary stuffing and mint sauce.
AGEING: 12 years.
RATING: 5 stars
THIS zingy Moss Brothers 2021 Moses Rock Sauvignon Blanc and the rest of the Moss portfolio can be bought on mossbrotherswines.com.au. The savvy blanc is green-tinted straw and has musk scents and crisp gooseberry flavour on the front plate. The middle palate shows kiwifruit, basil and mineral elements and the finish has flinty acid.
DRINK WITH: spring rolls.
AGEING: four years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
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