IN FOOD & WINE I have been lucky. I've been to L'Atelier and La Table du Robuchon in Paris several times and at each visit I've drunk something alluring and the food memories hang on..I still can conjure the extreme flavor of the gaspacho and delicate mackerel from two years ago. I haven't been to his New York operation at 57 East 57th Street, but the other day, my friend Pam sent me the L'Atelier wine list with a request. �Could you find a drinkable white for J.R�s birthday? He has his heart set on a lovely, minerally, edgy white burgundy around $100.� I looked. I searched. I gave up. At best, this list is awful. At worst it is disrespectful to both customer and chef. When I get my mitts on a list like this I have to wonder who is sleeping with who, or who is in bed with who. Because no one who cares could possibly, in their wildest thoughts mess up a list for a restaurant with Joel at the helm. I�m not big on points but I give this list a ranking of 4 spanks out of 5. Not only is it stupidly expensive for what you get (cheapest wine is $60 for the practically supermarket tier Chateau de Jau)---boring and predictable, lacks total imagination. And Robuchon's recipes might be on autopilot but the taste of his food is anything but. Whoever cobbled together this pathetic creation put down their three Chablis in the Cote de Beaune section of the wine list. Chablis doesn�t even share a border with Beaune. Obviously this is a list one cannot trust in more ways than one. So, I suggested my friends order the 2004 Crochet Sancerre instead at $7c. Or the Pibarnon Rose at $65. I really think it takes balls to have as your cheapest wine by the glass some crap like Raspail-Ay Reserve Gigondas�at $16. If I was ordering a wine by the glass the only white I could drink would be the $16, 2004 Alsatian Riesling �Beblenheim�, Domaine M. Deiss, 2004. For red it would have to be the 2002 Clos de Cortons, Faiveley , $45 a glass! Obviously, I like Faively but not that much. I�d have to buy a bottle, even though I know the bottle prices are marked up between 3 & 4 times retail which gauls me. (The aforementioned Ch. De Jau? I think that�s 5.5 times retail ). L�ATELIER TIP: This is one restaurant where you really should avoid the cheapest wines and go for something in the 70-85 price point for both value and flavor. If you go here is the strategy. Best buys are in the Rhone, but avoid the chateauneufs as most of them, save the Beaucastel (2002 @ $230--only four times and change retail!) are newly oaked and highly Parkerized. Lower priced wines exist in the largish Langeudoc, SW section, but all avoidable. And out of all of the delicious cabernet franc in the Loire, you can avoid those too. In Paris, the Bordeaux section is nicely neglected. Here, L�Atelier has decided the NY drinker, like the Las Vegas drinker needs to guzzle them. There are plenty to choose from in a range of prices. While most are the newer vintages that I have no use for, there are a couple of older wines on the list, so you won't go thirsty. But if you want to spend less than $350, best to back track to the Rhone section and glug down the syrah. Now here are my picks from the low to the high. LOW WHITE BURGUNDY: Drink Sancerre $76 HIGH WHITE BURGUNDY 2001 Domaine LeFlaive ,Chevalier Montrachet $680. LOW RED BURGUNDY 2001 C. Armand AUXEY-DURESSES 1er Cru $135 HIGH RED BURGUNDY 1990 DRC Richebourg $4000 2001 Rousseau Chambertin $520 *LOW RHONE: 2004 Domaine A. Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage. $70. 2004 "Mon Coeur" S�lection J-L Chave $75 *HIGH RHONE: 2002 T. Allemande Cornas $185 *LOW BORDEAUX 1983 Haut-Marbuzet $340 *HIGH LEFT BANK BORDEAUX 1990 Ch�teau Lafite-Rothschild $1800 *HIGH RIGHT BANK BORDEAUX 1988 P�trus $1750 Or you could go to Provence on 38 Macdougal! Went there last night, lovely wine list that is so fairly priced and now that Mark is in the kitchen the food is just fresh and, almost perfect vibrant flavors. It is exactly as it should be. They're also pouring Domaine Pepiere's gorgeously focused cabernet franc by the glass for $10.