Experience teaches us lessons that sometimes need to be overcome. Your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth loves surprises, and I found a delightful one in this month’s Value Wine No. 1: the Cameron Hughes Lot 343 2011 IGP Pays d’Oc Meritage. I say that lessons sometimes need to be overcome because I rarely think of quality French wines as values when sampling the candidates for our monthly recommendations. In the case of the Cameron Hughes Lot 343, that would be a huge mistake! A complex and balanced blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with healthy portions of Merlot and Malbec, the CH Lot 343 manages to give hints of blue and black fruit while finishing with a textbook oaky and earthy Languedoc finish. My significant other sampled a glass just last evening with me, and her immediate comment was “Now, I LIKE that!” This Cameron Hughes wine is immediately approachable and is drinking beautifully right now. It can be consumed alone as a cocktail or would pair beautifully with grilled lamb or even a hearty pasta or risotto dish. This surprising French offering was awarded a Gold Medal at the always impressive San Francisco International Wine Competition, so the experts on the Left Coast were equally impressed. And did I mention the best part of all? The Cameron Hughes Lot 343 retails for a mere $10 per bottle! You can check it out yourself at the Cameron Hughes website: www.chwine.com. Perhaps the website’s comment on Lot 343 is the most succinct of all: “Just a ridiculously good value.” Do NOT miss this one. Huge bang for your buck, wine sleuths!