Sazon fine restaurant in Santa Fe, NM

Photos Herschel Mair

Have you heard the news? The wines of Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe in Northern Baja are taking on world-class status. Famed restaurants like Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in California and Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo in Chicago have recently added Baja wines on their menus. Here in New Mexico, Sazón is proud to be among the first on the Baja bandwagon, quickly recognizing the region’s winemaking potential and the perfect pairing these wines achieve with the restaurant’s contemporary Mexican cuisine.

Sazón has focused on a curated wine list since its inception two years ago. It carries New World wines with a reserve list that can range across the globe. “From the beginning, the wines of the Valle have been of particular interest,” says Sazón’s co-owner Lawrence Becerra. Outside Ensenada, a coastal town about an hour’s drive south of San Diego, lies the Valle de Guadalupe. “This is the geography where the original wines of North America were made,” Becerra explains. “Now, it’s the primary wine district of Mexico.” In fact, 90 percent of all Mexican-made wine is from the valley.

happy hour santa fe nmLike so many other winemaking regions around the world, the winemakers of the Baja region originally focused on quantity over quality. That philosophy has now moved 180 degrees in the opposite direction. About seven to eight years ago, very good winemakers from around the world – including France, Spain, Argentina and California – realized the terroir of the Valle de Guadalupe was fantastic and could support an enormous variety of grapes. They formed partnerships with existing Baja winemakers or set up their own vineyards and planted new vines. The focus was on making quality wines that could compete with other winemaking regions around the world.

Grape vines take at least seven years to mature. That means the Valle de Guadalupe grapes are coming into their own right now. “I’ve been visiting the valley for 10 years,” recounts Becerra. “The first time I went there, the wines were very heavy fruit-forward wines with a lot of salinity and not particularly balanced. Four years ago, I noticed the wines were dramatically improving in quality, and the number of winemakers had increased. This past fall when Chef and I visited, we were blown away by how good the wines were. They are starting to make world-class wines.”

Sazón has served three acclaimed Baja wines since its opening, but will soon include an entire Baja section of 25-35 wines on its menu. Additionally, the restaurant will host several wine dinners in 2018 that feature the best Valle de Guadalupe wines, in which the winemakers and their owners will be present. “It’s an opportunity for our patrons to experience what all the buzz is about. My personal prediction is that in addition to the current buzz about the wines, in a couple of years people will be talking about the Valle de Guadaloupe as the one of the richest areas for great terroir and winemaking. Sazón wants to be at the forefront of that movement.”

Sezon, one of the best restaurants in Santa Fe, NMChef Fernando Olea’s cuisine pairs perfectly with these exciting new Baja wines. New wines that will soon be added to Sazon’s already impressive wine list such as the world-class Chenin Blanc from Henri Lurton, the delicious Chardonnays from Lechuza and Corona del Valle, or the sultry and provocative Cabernet Sauvignons from Adobe Guadalupe, will serve as excellent complements to chef’s new dishes like his beautiful interpretations of lobster tail and escolar.

Sazón also offers an unparalleled selection of tequila and mezcal. This winter, the restaurant has created a number of new seasonal cocktails to warm the spirit. Sazón was recently awarded the coveted Four Diamond Award from AAA, which ranks the restaurant among the top two percent of restaurants nationwide. And with Suzanna Becerra’s impeccable eye for interior design, Lawrence Becerra’s passion for wine, and Chef Olea’s culinary mastery, it’s no wonder.

Sazón | 221 Shelby St., Santa Fe | 505.983.8604 |