Clairette blanche is a white wine grape variety most widely grown in the wine regions of Province, Rhône, and Languedoc in France. At the end of the 1990s, there were 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of Clairette blanche grown in France, although volumes are decreasing.
Clairette blanche was often used to make vermouth, to which it is suited as it produces wine high in alcohol and low in acidity, and therefore yields wines that are sometimes described as “flabby” and which tend to oxidize easily. These problems
have sometimes been partially overcome by blending it with high-acid varieties such as Piquepoul blanc. It is allowed into many appellations of Southern Rhône, Provence and Languedoc. The white wines Clairette de Bellegarde and Clairette du Languedoc are made entirely from Clairette blanche, while the sparkling wine Clairette de Die can also contain Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Clairette blanche is frequently used in the blended white IGP/PGI wines from Languedoc.
It is also one of the thirteen grape varieties permitted in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. With 2.5% of the appellation’s vineyards planted in Clairette blanche in 2004 it is the most common white variety in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, slightly ahead of Grenache blanc.
Outside France it is also grown in South Africa for sparkling wine, Australia, and Sardinia.
Its budding is white with a carmine edge. Young leaves are very cottony, and adult leaves are five-lobed with overlapping petiole sinus. The underside of the lamina is very downy. Long winged bunches have ovoid grapes with a mucro at the end.
Clairette blanche (“clear white” in French) is quite pale in color, and on the nose reminiscent in many ways of Picpoul (Folle Blanche) with aromas of pineapple, key lime, and mint. In the mouth, it stands right on the edge between sweet and tart, with flavors of kaffir lime, green plum, and lemongrass. The finish is clean and slightly nutty, with an anise note.
Production area en 2018: 2 252 ha (5 565 acres)