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Nichols Winery & Cellars released its Masterpiece Series 1995 and 1996 Pinot Noir; Winemaker/Artist Selection in September, 1997.  The first six (6) artist bottles are an Estate Bottled Central Coast 1995 Pinot Noir, and the second six (6) artist bottles are Estate Bottled Central Coast 1996 Pinot Noir, both selected by Winemaker Keith Nichols and Notable Artist Max Shertz.  The wine collection consists of 12 bottles each depicting a modern famous artist.  Max Shertz has created a Masterpiece Series of portraits, of some of the world’s finest artists.  The series begins with twelve original portraits of the Moderns, the first release of which is Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.  The twelve artists, in the series, are those artists who have made considerable contributions to other artists and to our culture.  The following are artists in the second, third and forth releases in the Masterpiece Series: Lee Krasner, Max Shertz, Jackson Pollock, Joan Miro, Georges Braque, Franz Marc, Arshile Gorky, Andre Masson and Hans Hofmann.
The Wine
Nichols Winery & Cellars’ Masterpiece Series 1995 and 1996 Pinot Noir; Winemaker/Artist Selection, is Estate Bottled from the Central Coast, and was selected by Winemaker Keith Nichols and Notable Artist Max Shertz.  It was aged in 100 % French Oak for 12 months and bottled aged for 12 months to give the wine time to develop rich complex flavors.  The 1995 Nichols Artist Series Pinot Noir is bright ruby red. It has an appealing texture and is full body.  Also, it has concentrated fruit with rich sensual flavors such as, cherry, plum, cedar, toast, smoke, spices (clove), caramel and vanilla.  It is complex, well balanced with a velvet finish with excellent depth.
French Oak barrels were used exclusively for aging the wine for one year.  "I prefer French Oak from the Allier, Troncais and Never Forest," comments Keith.  "These forests produce tighter grain oak which allows for greater Phenol extraction during fermentation and aging processes.  The French Oak also contributes less oak odor then American Oak, and thus, counteracts less of the wine's natural fruit flavors."
The wine then underwent an additional twelve months of bottle aging.  "Bottle aging, for several months, allows the wine to round out its natural fruit flavors and gain additional complexity," explains Nichols.  "The wine also went through 100% Malo-Lactic fermentation which soften its acidity.  Malo-Lactic fermentation is a process in which the harsher malic acid is converted to the softer lactic acid."
Price, Availability and Production
Nichols Winery & Cellars, Masterpiece Series 1995 and 1996 Estate Bottled Pinot Noir consist of, 150 collectable bottles of each artist.  The wine will be allocated and retail for $195 per 750-ml Bottle.  The 12 bottle collection will be packaged in (4) four, 3 bottle designer wood boxes with acrylic covers.  Therefore, the entire collection will be released 3 bottles at a time over several months.  Collectors who initially purchase the entire collection, will be eligible for numbers starting at 011 and up, and also will be eligible to purchase etched magnums and double magnums from the collection.  Collectors who purchase one release at a time will get numbers starting with 075 and up.
“The wines will be sold worldwide, direct from the winery and also through fine retail wine merchants,” stated Keith Nichols, Owner of Nichols Winery & Cellars.
The Winemaker:
Keith Nichols has always been inspired by fine art, so it goes to say that he would dedicate himself to creating a fine wine for a discerning palette.  Then he would blend art and wine, by acquiring works of art by one of this century’s, great modern American contemporary artist, Max Shertz.
Nichols, new breed innovator that he is, realizes that art is always at the forefront of the free sprit, and wants to create wine that is always on that same lyrical expression.  
Swirl the wine around your palette as it enhances your feelings about art and freedom....
The Artist:
Max Shertz, a creator on multiple mediums, a painter and sculptor, a writer and poet, a teacher and lecturer.  Collected by museums, public and private institutions, notable art collectors, including two presidents and a king and queen and now Nichols Winery & Cellars join this fine acquisition list.
Shertz has created a Masterpiece Series of the depiction of portraits of the world’s finest artists.  The series begins with twelve original portraits of the Moderns.  These artists who have made considerable contribution to other artists and our culture.
Nichols Winery & Cellars was established in 1991 in Arroyo Grande, CA.  Its mission is to make "World Class Quality Wine" that compliments food.
Winemaking Philosophy
"Nichols Winery & Cellars’ winemaking philosophy is both a scientific and artistic approach.  It is the mixing of the two that results in excellent wine," said Keith Nichols.  "By selecting the right fruit and understanding its personality, you can then determine what artistic approach and direction to take the wine through.  One needs to be in close contact with the fruit leading up to harvest, as well as, during the time you are nurturing it through the winemaking process."
Central Coast Wine Region
The Central Coast Wine Region lies between the Sierra Madre Foothills, on the north, and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the south.  This is the only transverse coastal valley in California.  Two rivers, the Santa Maria and the Santa Ynez split the valley floor into two separate east-west fingers.  The valley is wide open to allow Pacific winds and fog to penetrate inland.  This climate, and the unusual combination of soils, make it potentially the equal to any wine making region in the world, including France.  Some consider the Central Coast Region the nearest climate to the Burgundy Region in France, which is also known for its great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.