Bravo Wines Win Applause Again

Jennifer Feinberg — The Chilliwack Progress

The boys at Bravo never bother to laminate their award-winning wine list. “The reason why we don’t is because the wine list is constantly evolving,” said Bravo co-owner Damian du Plessis.

Bravo Restaurant & Lounge on Yale Road East has been recognized again this spring by the Vancouver International Playhouse Wine Festival, picking up a bronze for the third year in a row. The local establishment was recognized alongside Vancouver institutions like the William Tell Bistro and The Cannery Seafood House.

Chilliwack Downtown BIA executive director Kathy Funk said they’re “busting at the seams” with pride about the local recognition.

“We’re just really proud to have such a gem like Bravo located in our growing downtown core,” she said. “The owners have done a wonderful job of keeping a high-quality approach to their menu and wine list.”

Bravo is one of the area’s “best-kept secrets,” she added, but the secret is starting to get out.

“We always strive to make our list unique,” offered co-owner Louie De Jaeger. “It is ever-changing because the vintages are ever-changing and can literally vary greatly from year to year.”

He points to their successful introduction of wine flights last year, consisting of three two-ounce pours which allow the customer to explore different and exciting taste sensations. De Jaeger said he’s also having fun exploring new labels from the red-hot wine countries like Spain and Argentina of late.

Last week’s festival in Vancouver was the 29th annual event, featuring 180 wineries and 1,570 wines from 17 countries. Here’s what the judges had to say about Bravo this year:

“Year after year the Wine List Awards judges have been inpressed by Bravo Restaurant’s ingenuity and ability to provide impressive selections at good value in Chilliwack.”

“It’s obvious that an admirable amount of time and effort goes into making this list ~ and into making Bravo a serious wine destination.”

Funk agreed and said she envisions out-of-towners coming to Chilliwack just to check out their wine offerings, and the infused martinis.

One aspect that may give the resto operators an edge is their enthusiastic approach to wine pairing, she said.

“They really take the time to couple the wines with the food they offer, and the wine list suits the menu,” she said.

“That’s one of the things they do well. Customers appreciate the fact that they know their products well and can guide them. It’s an art that both of the owners have.”

Du Plessis and De Jaeger pledge to continue experimenting with new wines, vintages and regions to match a range of palates and price points. They said they also make a point of supporting the burgeoning BC wine industry.

So how do they actually select the superlative wines that end up on their wine list?

“With so many great producers out there, it’s hard,” Du Plessis admitted. “We just evolve along with them to keep up, and we listen to the feedback we get from our customers.”

Bravo has acquired a reputation for introducing new wineries, hard-to-find vintages and rare varietals to Chilliwack. One recent example is an Austrian white wine by Rabl Vineyards called Gruner Veltliner, distinguished by a hint of white pepper which goes nicely with savoury dishes.

“The pepper notes make it go well with some of the harder-to-pair tastes like asparagus for example,” said Du Plessis. To his knowledge, no one in the Fraser Valley if offering it to customers.

Luckily most of Bravo’s growing clientele are willing to experiment.

“In all my years in the business, I’ve noticed that customers are getting more sophisticated all the time, yet they’re still very open-minded and willing to try new things. They’re always looking for something new and interesting to taste and that keeps it fun.”