Winter Harbor Oysters are grown by Saco Bay Aquatic Farms on two 3.2 acre tracts in Maine's Nonesuch and Scarborough Rivers about 8 miles south of Portland, Maine. The sites are subtidal which means the oysters remain under water. One site uses mesh oyster bags and the second site uses floating cages. They take the oysters out during the winter and store them in refrigeration storage units. Maine's Scarborough River is a 3.7 mile long coastal estuary river flowing through the Scarborough Marsh a 3,100 acre estuary that is the largest salt marsh in Maine.
Winter Harbor Oysters are Atlantic Oysters (Crassostrea virginica). The oysters look and smell like they have been living in a salt marsh. The shells run 2.5 to 3.5 inches long and are tear drop to roundish in shape. The caps look like something you would dig up off the bed of a marsh, starting slightly polished bone at the hinge with a light green wash and getting darker green and darker brown as you move to the lip. The caps are thin and break easily. The cups are lighter green and medium shallow. The flesh is light tan with dark green to black gills.
The oysters smell more salt marsh than tidal pool with some sea breeze level salt and vegetation and white pepper and broth notes. The liquor is medium plus briny with traces of the flavor and brininess of the liquid olives are packed in. It has a light mineral astringent note on the finish. The meat is salty and brothy but not as salty as the Maine Oysters from farther north. There is some sweet in the background and a hint of butter especially as you bite down. The finish gets sweeter and more fruit and meat come forward.
I am washing the Winter Harbor Oysters down with a bottle of Apimed Old Slavik Mead made from forest honey. Aphids secrete honeydew - a sticky sugary liquid - as they feed on tree sap. Honey bees collect the honeydew and make it into honey which the mead maker has transformed into an absolutely fabulous mead. The mead's sweetness and the oyster's salt are bonkers good together. The mead recalls the glaze on ham or pork and bring out those flavors in the oyster and have you thinking about maple bacon or sausage. The oyster helps pull out tree syrup and honey notes in the mead. The oyster's texture is firm with a little membrane and I give it a B while the flavor gets and A+. The pairing is 90 and the oyster by itself rates an 88.