There are two Champagne-linked events that NBA legend Isiah Thomas will always remember. In June 1989, he won the first of back-to-back titles with the Detroit Pistons. And in August 2017, he took in his first-ever Bellagio fountains show at Hyde, with me.
Okay, maybe that second one wasn’t as big a deal, but the Champagne being served at Bellagio was probably better than the stuff he sprayed around the locker room with his teammates.
Thomas was in Las Vegas to debut the Cheurlin Flagship Collection at the MGM Resorts luxury property. The Chairman and CEO of Isiah International has been importing the quality bubbly for several years and was named Champagne Producer of the Year during this year’s New York International Wine Competition. Now Bellagio is the only resort in Vegas to carry the Cheurlin brand.
“I couldn’t have planned it better,” the basketball icon says. “When MGM and Bellagio said they wanted to have it here at Hyde, it really let me know what they thought of the product and of the family, which has been making Champagne since 1788. They pick it off the vine, they make it right there on the premises, and we bring it over here and let you taste it.”
Thomas wasn’t necessarily looking to get into the bubbly biz, but the product sold itself. “When you look at the competition, there isn’t [much] out there, and there’s only a certain amount of land in Champagne,” he said. “This family has 200 acres. So there’s consistency in the grapes coming from one vineyard; you don’t have to mix grapes from different regions, and that let me know I was getting the highest quality that could possibly be served. And it’s been confirmed—we have a 90-plus rating across our portfolio of Champagnes.”