On 16 September, 1855, the Chamber of Commerce classed it as a fifth growth.
A. d'Armailhacq recounts in his work Vines in the Médoc that, in 1858, the estate of Cantemerle covered 225 acres. Some of the vines were planted in Ludon, next to those of La Lagune, whilst the remainder were situated on the best slopes of Macau. Annual production was 160 tuns or tonneaux of principal wine and 30 of second wine, representing a yield of approximately 1900 litres per 2.47 acres , relatively low in comparison with today's production.
In 1866, the surface area given over to vines was a tenure of just over 270 acres (of the property's total of 1000 acres ), producing an average 150 to 160 tonneaux, or Bordeaux casks, of principal wine and 50 to 60 of second wine - that is, a yield of 1800 litres per 2.47 acres and, thus, slightly less than that of 1858, relatively low in comparison with current yields.
In 1866, the portion of the property planted with vines was a single block of 110 hectares (out of the 400 which comprised the domain), producing an average of 150 to 160 tuns of château wine and 50 to 60 tuns of a second wine. This made for a yield of 18 hl/ha, slightly less than that of 1858.
In 1867, the Château Cantemerle received a silver medal at the World's Fair in Paris as a reward for the quality of its wine. The same year, in his celebrated work on the Médoc classed growths, Alfred Danflou accompanied his glowing remarks on the property with a photograph of the château. At this time it was endowed with two elegant towers, a sign of the brilliant success the domain had achieved. Several years later, revenue from the sale of land requisitioned to build the Bordeaux–Soulac railway was used for the construction of an annex, giving the château its current appearance.
Cantemerle was not only the worst hit of the Médoc classified growths during the phylloxera crisis, but the vines were also attacked by downy mildew between 1879 and 1887. Consequently, potential average annual production dropped by 50% (in comparison with the benchmark period of 1864 to 1878).
In 1884, mildew was responsible for a complete upheaval in the usual hierarchy of the great growths. The wines of Margaux, Cantenac, Ludon and Macau fared better than those of Saint-Julien Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. Consequently, the price obtained for 1884 Lafite fell to 1400 francs per tonneau (compared with 5000 francs for Margaux) and Cantemerle was one of two fifth growths, the other being Dauzac, to fetch 200 francs more per tonneau than the Lafite wines.
In 1891, Jeanne Armande de Villeneuve Durfort, Baronne d’Abbaye died, and on June 29, 1892 the domain was sold at auction by her heirs, ending a “reign” of more than three centuries by the Villeneuve Durfort family.
The domain was bought by the négociant firm Calvet for 600,000 francs, and two weeks later resold to Théophile-Jean Dubos (1837–1905).