FOUR COUSINS WINES
Sunday 9 July 2017
It was a rainy Sunday morning. My partner and I had been enjoying a relaxing weekend at McGregor. It was too wet to walk outside so we headed, on the spur of the moment, to Four Cousins. As a Brit, I do not have the same close association with the wine family as my South African friends.
The legendary four cousins were in silhouette on a life-size piece of artwork beside the entrance to the building. Yes, they are real! The new building, barely a year old, surprised and impressed. Bright and well lit, the shop was on one side, the Tasting area to the right, and Restaurant at the rear. I was immediately impressed by the range of drinks that are made under the Four Cousins brand: not just sparkling and still wines, bottled and boxed, but also liqueur and whisky (‘Scottish Cousin’).
Four Cousins has its roots in the Van Loveren family who have owned land in the Robertson area since 1937. The first muscadel wine was made by Hennie Snr in 1939. The wines made for the next 40 or so years were bulk wines. A new cellar was built in 1963 as sons Nico and Wynand grew older. Their 4 sons joined the farm after their studies. The Four Cousins range was launched in 2000, initially in 1.5 litre bottles, and it is now South Africa’s biggest selling bottled brand. Each cousin has a different role: Hennie and Neil are viticulturalists; Bussell is the winemaker; and Phillip looks after the business. History becomes legend.
I was in a relaxed mood today. I didn’t have my regular tasting notes. We chose 2 pairings at R55 so we could share: the Sparkling Wine Pairing and the Family Pairing. These were fun and not your usual pairing. The sparkling White, Sauvignon Blanc, Blush and Red wines were paired with a triangle of Melrose cheese, some camembert with green fig, a pink mini-meringue, and some peppery cheese. A dry sweet biscuit, Turkish delight, jammy dodger biscuit, all sorts sweets, and a zoo biscuit – classic South African fare – paired with the dry and sweet White/Red wines and Rosé. I liked how unpretentious the whole tasting was. Some pairings worked better than others – the Melrose cheese with the sparkling White and the Turkish delight with the Natural Sweet White – but that was not really the aim of the tasting. I have always said that we like what we like when it comes to wine and food – or, indeed, wine alone – and it matters not what convention or wine experts say.
After, we had lunch in the open and airy child-friendly restaurant. There were many diners there, of all ages, and so it was not hard to see why Four Cousins is so popular. There was a micro-brewery on one side of the large room. I chose prawn tempura from the menu that was good value and just what I needed.
I recommend anyone to go and visit Four Cousins for tasting. Bring no prior impressions with you. Just go and have fun. There’s as much enjoyment to be had as at any big name, historic or iconic wine estate. You’ll be surprised. Admit it, that you too began your wine journey with Four Cousins as have so many others. Reminisce with your friends of how you shared a 1.5 litre bottle of sweet Rosé or box wine Red. You’ll be the better for it!
Wines tasted (bought *):
FC White (60% White Muscadel, 40% Grape Juice) – R50
FC Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc – R50 FAVOURITE WINE
FC Sparkling Blush (60% Red Muscadel, 40% Grape Juice) – R55
FC Sparkling Red (60% Ruby Cabernet, 40% Grape Juice) – R55
Four Cousins Dry White (80% Colombard, 20% Sauvignon Blanc) – R50
Four Cousins Natural Sweet White (60% White Muscadel, 40% Grape Juice) – R50
Four Cousins Sweet Rosé (60% Rosé, 40% Grape Juice) – R50
Four Cousins Dry Red (80% Ruby Cabernet, 20% Merlot) – R55
Four Cousins Natural Sweet Red (60% River Red, 40% Grape Juice) – R55