It IS an important variable..but we don't know if it should be more or less oxygen....Whites it seems a bit clearer, more oxygen at the start if you want it to have oxidized a bit more, less if you don't. What exactly is the best way, we don't know..but we do know Whites seems to age perfectly fine under screwcap..and most cork lovers that know enough about wine agree, it is fine for whites...For reds, we don't know the research has no conclusion either. They know it does contribute to something in the wine but they don't know if it is good or bad to have more oxygen (at least between the levels they're talking when bottling..obviously too much is bad).
Here are two articles about corks vs. screwcaps from Chateau Margaux...http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... rgaux+corkhttp://www.thewinedoctor.com/tastingsfo ... 012a.shtml
No mention of keeping it out of tradition..in fact saying they'd switch to something they are very certain is better but obviously, for what they want, they won't be doing it anytime soon.
But to bring it back to why Yanks associate quality with corks..that article you put up is a perfect example and great marketing by the cork industry...They do mention tradition (as one in a list of things..and only twice) but definitely not in the same tone as the other qualities which are, they use cork because it has proven itself for hundreds and hundreds of years..They know it works, they know the wine ages...So why would they switch to something unknown? (apparently for costs..since they keep mentioning how much it costs to use cork).
The articles I've seen, most of the big producers have said...if they find something better, that limits the issues they have, and still retains the aging qualities of cork for the length of time they're used to, they'd use it. Right now, in their mind, there is nothing better than cork. There are some downsides but they live with it, as they have for hundreds and hundreds of years, because they know that in the long run, it works...I wouldn't be switching either if I were them..but I'd certainly be looking.