Harvest Wine Tasting: Charlton Orchards

While strolling through the Wayland Farmer’s Market, eyeing stalls boasting their beautiful heirloom produce, a chalkboard easel advertising ‘Wine Tasting’ in neat handwritten block letters stopped me right in my tracks and reeled me in like a fish on a line. The sign and the wine were property of Charlton Orchard, which hosts Obadiah McIntyre Farm Winery. The family has been growing fruit for half a century, and ventured into the wine making process in 1999. Not only do they produce the traditional grape varietals, but their niche lies in their uniquely crafted fruit wines which was precisely what had me salivating as I walked up to their booth.

The orchard’s wine list features a huge array of fruit wines, mostly on the sweet side ranging from Plum, Blueberry and Cherry, to Strawberry Rhubarb and Pear. For research purposes, of course, I had to test every one of them. The pear and cherry versions were true to their fruit essence, but a little to sweet for my taste. I found the Shiro Plum to be just as it is described by the winemaker: ‘delightful’, and would surely pair nicely with a pork loin.

The Peach Wine won my prize of the day with its distinct, tangy sweet flavor meld. I brought a bottle home with me, and decided that it would be delicious as an apertif or mixed with a bit of seltzer and fresh ginger or lime as a refreshing spritzer. Their Carbonated Apple Wine was a close second, evoking the crisp feel of fresh fall cider interlaced with the bubbly effervescence of sparkling wine.

Charlton Orchards is currently open Wednesday-Sundays through October where you can ‘pick your own fruit’, and hosts wine tastings on the weekends.

Contact:

44 Old Worcester Rd.

Charlton, MA 01507

Phone: (508) 248-7820 / (800) 649-1476

Email: info@charltonorchard.com

Web: www.charltonorchard.com  & www.obadiahmcintyre.com

White Wine Mussels

Check out the menu at any restaurant featuring ‘modern American’ cuisine, and you are guaranteed to see a version of mussels in sauce with crostini points. ‘Amen!’ to that because it is one of my absolute favorite dishes to order. I’ll order a whole one for myself as my dinner, just to be able to crack open each mussel and extract each delicate morsel, spoon it on to a crostini and top it with the salty sauce and accoutrements. I’ve been known at times (OK, every time) to sop up any remaining broth with extra bread, or even by the spoonful. My obsession and adoration for mussels in wine sauce led me on a quest to create my own rendition, and share it with anyone who also can be caught from time to time sipping the last of the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen mussels in shell, rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 oz. pepperoni or hard salami, thick sliced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1.5 c. white wine
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • ¼ c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ lemon, for juice
  • 1 crusty baguette, sliced into ½ inch pieces on a diagonal

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.

2. Heat olive oil over in a large Dutch oven or pot, medium heat. Once oil is hot, cook garlic and onion until translucent.

3. Add salami and simmer until browned, about 5 minutes.

 

4. Deglaze pan with white wine and be sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Add mussels, canned tomatoes and salt.  Stir thoroughly. Squeeze lemon juice into the pot and add white wine. Bring to a simmer and cover.

6. Turn heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes until all shells have opened. Remove mussels from broth with a slotted spoon. Place into a bowl, cover, and set aside until the sauce is finished reducing.

7. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook uncovered for another 15-20 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half. Remove from heat, and reincorporate the mussels.

8. Serve mussels with wine sauce in a large bowl, or straight from the pot with the toasted baguette slices for dipping.