Recently, husband-wife chefs Alex Raij and Eder Montero of Manhattan’s Txikito traveled from New York City to Spain’s Navarra region with their two-year-old daughter, Maayan. Their arrival set off an explosion of luggage, toddler gear and right-to-left cheek kisses.
They’d come to visit Concha Vecino, winemaker at Basque country’s Bodegas Nekeas and creator of Vega Sindoa El Chaparral. Raij admits to an obsession with this $15 Garnacha. “I have a terrible memory for wine names, but this stuck with me from the first time I tried it,” she says. “It goes well with almost anything—peppers, fatty meats, fish.” She drank a glass almost every day, and eventually the wine earned a nickname: Chappy.
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A few years ago, when El Chaparral’s importer invited Raij to a winemaker dinner in New York, she specifically requested to sit next to Vecino. “Alex told me, ‘I love El Chaparral, and I just had to know the person who made it,’ ” Vecino recalls. “I was moved by this, because El Chaparral is my baby.” The two women immediately hit it off.