Instant wine collection for sale for $205,000

NEW YORK - Some wine lover with deep pockets who acts quickly can buy an instant wine collection at Sotheby's, which is offering 100 original wooden cases of the iconic California wine Opus One for US$165,000 ($205,000).

For five days, from November 11 to the evening of Nov 15, the first person entering the auction house's wine store in New York who offers the price can have the 600-bottle collection.

"I thought of doing this for fun, because it is," said Jamie Ritchie, Sotheby's head of wines in North America. "Opus One is the most requested Californian wine in our retail shop."

Ritchie said the idea for the unusual sale occurred when an unnamed seller came into the shop and asked if the auction house was interested in selling the Bordeaux-style blend, the result of a 1979 joint venture between California's Robert Mondavi and France's Baroness Philippine de Rothschild.

"It's fair to say that he is someone who loved Opus One ... and now time has moved on and they're probably not going to drink that quantity," he explained.

Opus One is described as having the opulent fruit of a Californian wine married with the elegance, structure and balance of a classic Bordeaux.

A single bottle of the 2005 Opus One sells for between $250 and $300 in the United States, around $400 in the Britain and as much as $500 in New Zealand.

If the 600-bottle lot, which includes vintages from 1998 to 2005, doesn't sell, Ritchie is not worried.

"Not a problem. We'll just sell them individually," he said.