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Geoffrey Dean's Ashes and wine blog: let the party begin!

Published:  07 January, 2011

Never have I been happier to be proved wrong. My prediction that the Ashes series would be tight was wide of the mark...the contest wasn't even close. Three innings victories says it all....Australia were thrashed in their own backyard. Enjoy it while you can, because they will rejuvenate in time. Australian sport is too well-structured and well-endowed not to.

But England fans might like to know what the headline was on the back page of the Sydney Morning Herald (a broadsheet not tabloid) this morning. It read: "After 135 years, 730 matches and 417 players, Australia have finally fielded....OUR WORST TEST XI."

Underneath a photo of the team (in pink not baggy green caps) is the caption: "Today, England should become the first team in history to inflict three innings defeats on Australia in a single series. Commence the post-mortem."

It got even better on the inside page, where the headline read: "Can't bat, can't bowl, can't field and can't even think straight."

Make no mistake, the post-mortem is going to be particularly vicious.

England have tried, sensibly enough, to be magnanimous in victory. For that reason, they did not re-perform their "sprinkler" dance routine in front of the Barmy Army as they had done after the win in Melbourne.

But I can reveal, still writing in the SCG press-box a full five hours after the match ended, that Graeme Swann has just gone out to the middle and performed a solo 'sprinkler' dance by one of the sprinklers that are turned on by the square.

Still in his whites and England cap, Swann got a good soaking and could not take the grin off his face.
He has returned to the dressing-room whence chanting can be heard.

Clearly, the longest party of most of the players' lives has already started. I have no idea when it will end....sometime next week I imagine. Good on them...they deserve every drop of the best Australian wine they can lay their hands on, although I suspect most will not stray too far from beer.

Talking of the best Aussie wine, some of the Hunter Valley's leading winemakers have been at the SCG these past few days. Having been up there for tastings before the match, I must mention three big cricket fans in Iain Riggs of Brokenwood, Phil Ryan of Mount Pleasant and Bruce Tyrell of Tyrells.

It was good to hear from them that their vineyards that they have not been affected by the dreaded downy mildew that is plaguing New South Wales (the wine-growing region around of Orange for example had 25 days of rain in December and has a real problem with the fungus).

The better organized wineries stocked up on the fungicide, Ridomil, before it ran out nationally. One such is Lake's Folly, whose brilliant winemaker, Rodney Kempe, was brutally succinct. "This is a year that will sort out the sheep from the goats," he told me. "The Hunter's a bugger of a place to make wine. Like Burgundy, you can make cracking wines or have the weather go against you."

Kempe, invariably, seems to make superb Chardonnay and Cabernet. His 2009 was the most "collected" Cabernet in Australia, a reminder that the Hunter produces more than just top-class Shiraz and Semillon.

*Geoffrey Dean is a cricket writer for The Times who has been writing exclusively for Harpers Wine & Spirit throughout the Ashes series about the cricket and Australia's wine and winemakers as part of his research for his WSET Diploma.