Classic aromas of Clairette are: Red Apple, Lime, Lemon and White Peach
Clairette is a white grape varietal that is thought of being one of the oldest in France’s southern regions. It has long had a history in the south of France with records dating its existence in the region from 1490.
The southern French regions of Clairette de Die is without a doubt the most important region for the grape. Here it is made into bottle-fermented sparkling wines. In totality, France has 2,405ha – a massive decrease on 14,099ha just over 50 years ago – with the fair majority across the south of France. Outside of the sparkling examples of Die, the leading dry white wines are made in the region of Clairette de Languedoc. It is most common to be blended with a range of other white grapes such as Grenache Blanc or Ugni Blanc.
The southern Rhone Valley of France is also of fair importance for Clairette. It is one of the 16 grape varietals that are allowed into the famous blend of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It often makes fairly bland and neutral wines though producers like Chateau de Beaucastel will often use up to 30% in their white wines – which are very serious and long-lived.
The most important plantings of Clairette outside of France are in South Africa where there is a total of 328ha. Worcester region seems to hold more plantings than any of the others, most likely due to producers like Sadie Family Vineyards who often use Clairette to fill out their aromatic white blends.
Clairette produces wines that are full bodied with medium-high acidity. It will often have quite fresh aromatics of apples, lime pith and baked lemons. Riper examples will give white peach and florals.