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Master of Wine, Martin Reyes, says he views cork as the only sustainable closure for wine

26 Sep / 2023   Article

Martin Reyes, General Manager for Peter Paul Wines, based in the Sonoma valley, is the first Master of Wine of Mexican descent.

The first-generation American has built a prolific career as a buyer, importer, educator, speaker, judge, writer and winemaker and in 2018 he launched Reyes Selections, a small portfolio of his favourite producers, chosen from years of sourcing wines globally for the US market.

In November 2022 he wrote an article for 100% Cork on why he has renewed his commitment to cork and now considers that it is the only truly sustainable closure for wine. He explains how when he first entered the wine industry two decades ago, there was a growing idea that cork was a “complicated” option, due to the risk of cork taint. 

But he says that the outlook has changed dramatically, due to innovation that has reduced taint rates by “99% since TCA records were first tabulated by the Cork Quality Council in 2001”.

In addition to quality control improvements, he considers that cork is now the best closure because “sustainability matters as much as wine quality (or anything else, really). Many in our industry have finally digested the notion that protecting our world’s gifts is as important as enjoying them”, adding: “Cork has too much sustainable mojo going on for any green fan like me to resist.” 

He cites key considerations such as the fact that cork oak trees are not cut down to make cork and that cork oak forests are carbon sinks and one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots: “Each year these forests “drink” the carbon equivalent of what 1.5 million cars generate.”

He also praised the cork industry’s sustainability processes including recycling & waste streams. 


He cited the following key facts:

  • €700 million R&D+I investment in the cork industry over the last 15 years
  • The Portuguese cork industry has always upheld the highest standards of quality in the different production and manufacturing stages, including major initiatives to eradicate TCA.
  • Cork is also effectively used in other industries, such as terrestrial and space transport.
  • Cork stoppers have a negative carbon footprint, and constitute “the most sustainable closure for eco-conscious wine drinkers”.
  • Plastic closures take 9 times more greenhouse gas emissions to produce, while aluminum screw caps take 24 times the emissions to produce, compared to natural cork.
  • “Until now, only the natural cork stopper has been able to provide this perfect balance, allowing for the consistent, slow oxygen transfer to enable the correct evolution of wine and the formation of tertiary-aged characters”.


He summed up: “I hereby confess my renewed love affair with Quercus suber for all the right reasons this time.”

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