Clairette is definitely a southern France variety and surely an ancient one at that, the first written reference occurring in the 16th century. Around the Midi it produces a bewildering array of styles from sparkling to dry, sweet and even rancio versions. It is, of course, one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s permitted thirteen varieties, bringing freshness to white and, occasionally, red wines. The name of the grape (“pale”) probably refers to the white indumentum (i.e. fur) on the underside of the vine’s leaves.