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Kendall-Jackson 2009 Summation Red Blend

Kendall-Jackson: Braised Chicken

Here’s a sample from K-J’s Vintner’s Reserve stable that talks like a big wine, drinks like a sweet wine, and is more interesting for how well it fits in that how it stands out.

If that sounds all over the map, so is this wine. Quite so. Sourced from six California counties — the best, if not the most, from Sonoma County, you can bet — it’s a kitchen sink concoction of 43 percent Zinfandel, 24 percent Syrah, 21 percent Merlot, 5 percent Grenache, 4 percent Petite Sirah, 3 percent other. Explains K-J: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”

So now we know that it’s not the Bordeaux-style heavy hitter that names like “Summation” are usually reserved for. Perhaps it evokes the word, “consummation,” the sort of nod and wink given lately for sweet red wines: think, “cupcake.” The Kendall-Jackson 2009 Summation Red Blend ($17) doesn’t drink noticeably sweet, but is it ever smooth.

It’s tough to say whether the initial aroma was bottle variation, or a design feature, conjuring a nostalgic vision of hoary, damp wine cellars as it did. Cardamon, woody spice take over, with fruitcake, a bit of chocolate and cherry.

It’s medium-bodied, despite the dark, brambleberry flavors, with a singular, plush, Persian-cat softness to the finish. Now I’m reminded of a prop wine in a romcom: a wine that will clearly be enjoyed, without taking much attention away from the moment.

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K-J suggests this wine will be outstanding “with or without food,” which may or may not be code for wee bit o’ residual sugar. But what’s a candlight dinner without braised chicken:

Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard

Recipe by Chef Justin Wangler

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch Swiss chard, rinsed and dried
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1⁄2 C. dry red wine
  • 1 C. chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Hold a stalk of Swiss chard and slide your other hand along the stalk, stripping away the leaf. Repeat with all of the leaves. Trim away the bottom of the stalks and cut the stalks into 1⁄2” thick slices. Cut the leaves into 1” pieces. Set aside.

In a skillet just large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, fry the bacon over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Increase the heat under the skillet to medium-high.

Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper and add to the skillet, skin side down. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Using tongs, transfer to a plate.

Add the Swiss chard stalks to the skillet and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Add the carrot, celery, half of the shallot, and the thyme sprigs to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until nearly dry, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, skin side up. Cover with a lid slightly askew and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted metal spatula, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Remove the thyme sprigs from the pan and whisk in the mustard. Stir in the Swiss chard leaves and cook until wilted. Stir in the Swiss chard stalks, the butter, and 2 Tbsp. of the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the Swiss chard among six shallow bowls or small plates and place a piece of chicken on top. Sprinkle with the bacon and the remaining parsley and serve.

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