While in North America recently I was taken aback by the number of screw tops on wine bottles. Screw tops have long been synonymous with plonk in France.
Real cork is part and parcel of bottled wine. Cork is still harvested in both mainland France and Corsica. If you exit at le Luc off the A8 between Nice and Aix en Provence and drive down the D558 to St. Tropez you will see kilometers of cork oak trees. This is one of the most beautiful drives in Provence no matter what season and perhaps part of the beauty lies in these noble trees whose bark rejuvenates itself every 10 years. The oaks are not cut down the bark or cork is simply stripped from the tree.
Because of the high demand for real corks in Europe the cork oak forests have been protected not just by those with interests in the wine industry but by environmentalists as well. Cork harvesting in both economically and environmentally sustainable. But a little outside help couldn't hurt so if you want to help preserve the cork industry in the Mediterranean basin why not join the WWF initiative and PUT A CORK IN IT, AND PLANT A TREE! - http://shop.panda.org/put-a-cork-in-it.html#product-description It's an original gift idea for the wine drinking environmentalists.