Since the incredible streak of good vintages began back in 1988, 1996 has been by far the most difficult. Rain seems to have been the main issue, but unlike previous years it was the lack of precipitation that dictated this particular vintage. It was an abnormally dry growing season, cold led to uneven flowering in June, July was warm and August was variable with cold weather and some hail storms. By October the sugar levels were too low and the acidity too high. Harvest started in early October but those estates that waited benefited from an Indian summer which thankfully reversed the sugar/acid ratios. Due to the lateness of the harvest and the excellent quality of the grapes some extremely good Eiswein was also produced around Christmas. The wines from Rhiengau and Nahe regions seem to have produced superb examples but overall 1996 is a long term vintage for elegant, age worthy wines.