by José Pastor
Eliseo Carballo is one of the most unique growers we have crossed paths with since we started this journey. The first thing that we asked him upon meeting him was: “Why aren’t your wines under the D.O. La Palma?” Eliseo replied, “Because they don’t have enough aromatics.” In other words, he was not adding yeast to the wines.
Eliseo is considered to make some of the best Malvasía wines in the Canary Islands. Carballo’s vineyards are located in the south side of the island at around 200 meters above sea level, facing the Atlantic Ocean, in an area called Fuencaliente. In 1677 the San Antonio Volcano erupted and covered the land with black-volcanic ash, known locally as Picon. The soils here are similar to those of the Island of Lanzarote, and they make for some of the most dramatic vineyards in the world (a scene from Almodovar's recent Broken Embraces shows a beautiful shot of this type of vineyard). All his vineyards are farmed organically. The wines undergo native yeast fermentation, and little sulfur is added at bottling. All of the wines are limited production, raised in tank (no oak at all), and bottled unfiltered.
Eliseo makes a tiny amount of wine from a little-known grape, called Bujariego (known as Diego in Lanzarote & Vigiriega in Granada), a grape that was widely planted in the south of Spain before Phylloxera. Today, there are some producers in the mountains of Granada making sparkling wine from the grape due to its naturally high acidity. The vines on La Palma, and elsewhere in the Canaries, are planted on their original rootstock (pie franco) because phylloxera did not make it to the Canary Islands. A somehow “simple” or neutral varietal other places where it is grown on American rootstock, yet, a grape on Eliseo's land that seems to allow the volcanic, Atlantic-infused terruño of La Palma sing happily in the glass.
In terms of food, Eliseo loves to drink this wine with the local dish “Vieja con papas arrugadas y mojo verde". Vieja is a native type of parrotfish from the Canary Islands, which translates to “old lady”. Papas arrugadas stands for wrinkled potatoes - a.k.a small boiled potatoes. Mojo is a commonly used sauce by Canarian’s. There are different types of mojo. The verde, or green, is an herb-flavored version of the rojo (red) and is mainly based off of fresh parsley & cilantro. It works extremely well with fresh fish but can be also served along with vegetables or just over bread.
In other words, fresh boiled fish & potatoes with mojo sauce. This is an essay & “simple” meal to make at home, yet plain, delicious, & satisfying. Get your favorite fresh whole or already filleted fish from your local market, the fresher, the better. If it’s the whole fish you can do it the Canarian way & just boil it with some salt. If it’s already filleted you can also make it outside on the grill or in a pan. Serve it with the potatoes & mojo verde. Paired with a glass of chilled Bujariego.
One last note, Eliseo recommends serving the wine in a regular water glass. So, keep it simple.