Clairette du Languedoc wines are made only from the Clairette Blanche grape and include a range of wines as wells vins doux naturels. This appellation is almost unique in France for its diversity - the appellation system's founding principal is the preservation and protection of individual wine styles. This is one of the oldest appellations in Languedoc, dating from 1948.
The vineyards cover just under 250 acres and there are 11 communes which are permitted to make these wines. The parishes of Adissan, Aspiran, Cabrieres, Ceyras, Fontes, Le Bosc, Lieuran-Cabrieres, Nizas, Paulhan, Peret and Saint-Andre-de-Sagonis are the parishes which may produce Clairette du Languedoc wines and add their name to the appellation title. Adissan is considered the cradle of Clairette. They are located just west of Montpellier, at the eastern edge of the Montagne Noire hills.
The vineyards lie on terraces of pebbles of quartz, flint and limestone in a sandy clay and the climate is Mediterranean though the vines are sheltered by the foothills of the Cevennes. The Clairette grape is native to the banks of the river Herault and makes wines with the flavours of almonds, peaches and apricot.
In 1471 Louis XI's sommelier bought picquardentz (white wine) and claretz (sweet white wine) from this area to the attention of the royal court. Picquardentz is the old French for the historical wine Picardan believed to have been produced from the varieties Clairette Blanche and Piquepoul Blanc. Claretz is the Old French for Clairette.
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 tend to oxidize easily. 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. It is also one of the thirteen grape varieties permitted in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation.