Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Clairette is a much-used name for southern French white grape varieties. Clairette Ronde. for example, is the Languedoc name for the ubiquitous ugni blanc, and various Clairettes serve as synonyms for the much finer bourboulenc.

True Clairette Blanche, however, is very old Languedoc variety grown on a total of 2,274 ha/5,617 acres of French vineyard in 2011, being allowed into a wide range of southern Rhône, Provençal, and Languedoc appellations, even lending its name to three (see below). Clairette is a traditional variety well suited to poor, dry soils, for long grown in what Galet calls ‘the land of the olive tree’. Its small, thick-skinned grapes ripen relatively late, but can ripen dangerously fast at the end of the growing season. In the southern Rhône, it is particularly popular for adding aroma and acidity to a blend, not least with the fatter grenache blanc. Clairette is widely distributed throughout the eastern Midi, especially in the Gard, where it produces clairette de bellegarde and in the Hérault for clairette du languedoc, two of the Languedoc’s earliest controlled appellations, presumably because these white wines were so unlike the typical produce of the Midi. Its other stronghold is the Drôme département since Clairette is the main ingredient in clairette de die and crémant de die.