So, anyway, I landed in New York a week ago today, that is, March 11, and launched myself to work on Monday, at a tasting of Loire Valley sauvignon blanc wines put on by the Loire Valley Wine Bureau. Instead of rounding up a cattle-call of labels, as so often happens at trade tastings — these are attended primarily by wholesalers, retailers, restaurant people and the press — the organizers presented only 35 wines, most of which were top-quality. These were mainly from 2005, a year that has producers celebrating all over France, though a handful of wines from 2004 that were displayed were seductively attractive.

The sauvignon blanc area of the Loire Valley nestles in the eastern part of the region, where that scenic river, which threads its way through the heart of French history, makes a great curve from the south to the west. The most familiar appellations are Sancerre and Pouilly Fume; the others, smaller and relatively obscure, are Touraine Sauvignon, Reuilly, Quincy, Meneton-Salon and Coteaux du Giennois. Loire Valley wines remain seriously underpriced; these represent fabulous value.

I’ll be writing about these wines in detail on a page on the website, but for the moment, I’ll mention five Loire Valley sauvignon blancs you can’t live without, though, as usual and regretfully, I make no promises about availability. 

*Domaine Mardon Quincy Tres Vieilles Vignes 2005. “Very old vines,” indeed, in this case 85 years old. Loads of nerve and energy animate this drinkable yet seriously dimensioned and detailed sauvignon blanc that’s loaded with peach, pear, apple and lime flavors and huge reserves of acid and minerals. I was knocked out. About $13.

*Domaine Henry Natter Sancerre 2004. Not just classic in proportion and detail but a wonderful wine, blazingly clean and fresh and crisp, tremendously earthy and spicy, and, surprising for the price, capable of aging to 2010 or 2012. About $14-$15.

*Domaine Claude Lafound Reuilly “Clos Fussay” 2005. Keen acid, crystalline citrus flavors, shimmering limestone, lovely texture, amazing tone and verve for the price. About $15. 

*Tour St. Martin Meneton-Salon 2004. I hate to be overdrawn on my “lovely” account, but I have to write the check and pronounce this sauvignon blanc lovely in every aspect and scintillating in its exquisite integration and balance. Pay attention to the way in which crisp acid, dense limestone elements and an almost plush texture support and invigorate each other. About $18. 

*Domaine de Congy Pouilly Fume “Cuvee Les Galfins” 2005. Bouquet, fruit, texture draw you in irresistibly, the huge earthy and minerally qualities held in perfect equilibrium with electric acid and toothsome pear, peach and melon flavors. About $20.